Introduction to International Law

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Georgetown University Law Center Rev. 1.24.14

Spring 2014
Introduction to International Law

LAWJ 235-01

(3 credit hours)
Prof. David P. Stewart Monday and Wednesday 9:35-11:00 a.m. Hotung 1000

This course provides a broad introduction to the nature, sources and operation of international law. It includes a survey of the basic principles, instruments and institutions of “public international law,” such as the law governing treaties and other international agreements, the nature and content of customary international law, the recognition of states and governments, the role and operation of international and regional organizations such as the United Nations and the OAS, international human rights, methods of international dispute resolution (including the role of the International Court of Justice and other entities), the law of the sea and international criminal law, and principles governing the use of force.

We will also spend some time on the status of international law in the U.S. legal system (as reflected in concepts of civil and criminal jurisdiction, diplomatic and foreign sovereign immunity, and the act of state doctrine) and the allocation of foreign affairs powers between the President, the Congress and the Judiciary.
Depending on your particular interests, we can also devote time to one or two “hot topics” – in such areas, for example, as counter-terrorism, international crimes, trafficking in drugs and persons, use of force and UN sanctions in response to recent developments, etc.

We will be using the 6th edition of Carter, Trimble & Weiner’s International Law (Aspen 2011) together with its document supplement (2013-2015). The assigned readings are from these two volumes. Some supplemental readings have been posted on courseware.
You may also find it useful to refer to Buergenthal and Murphy, Public International Law in a Nutshell (5th ed. 2013); Murphy, Principles of International Law (2nd 2012); or Bederman, International Law Frameworks (2nd ed. 2006) – all readily available at the bookstore or online.
Take a few moments, at your leisure during the first two or three weeks of the course, to visit and read or download “International Law: 100 Ways It Shapes Our Lives.”
The examination will be a comprehensive three-hour, entirely open-book test covering the entire course on the basis of hypothetical and essay-type questions. It is scheduled to be held on Tuesday 5/01/14 at 9:00 a.m. Copies of previous exams in this and similar courses are of course available to you.
Reading Assignments
The schedule of topics and readings is attached. My intent will be to keep to this schedule as closely as possible, although travel commitments will require some adjustments. The readings in the textbook are in the neighborhood of 35 pages per class. Do not overlook the readings in the documentary supplement, since they are important and one of your tasks this semester is to become familiar with these basic international law instruments. Again, supplemental materials have already been posted on courseware – they are also an important part of your assignments -- and some additional materials may be added as the course progresses. Please note the assignment to be completed for the first class.
My expectations are simple: Be present, be prepared, be a participant. Attendance in class is required. Do the readings. Every class member should be prepared for each session and may expect to be called upon. Active class participation is strongly encouraged. Discussions and presentations will assume your familiarity with the assigned readings; you will benefit only if you have done them thoughtfully. Your active participation in, and positive contributions to, class discussions may be taken into account in the final course grade, but only to your benefit.

We will be using Courseware for communication, discussion, assignment and document distribution. Our password is “intlaw.”
Contacting Me
My office is Hotung 6018. I can be reached at My office hours are Tuesdays 2-3 p.m. For appointments, contact Jacquelyn E. Williams at 202-662-9687 or

Classes and Reading Assignments

  1. Jan. 13 Mon Introduction to the Course and the Topic

Reading: pp. 1-30

Courseware: Read UN Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States, UNGA Res. 2625 (1970)

  1. Jan. 15 Weds Imagining International Law

Reading: pp. 30-59

Courseware: Milanović v. Serbia (ECHR 12.16.10)

No class Jan. 20 MLK

Jan. 22 Weds Cancelled (snow day)

  1. Jan. 27 Mon (1)* Sources I: Treaties * = 8 a.m.

Reading: pp. 85-115

Doc. Supp.: VCLT (pp. 43-69), arts. 1-18, 26-27, 31-33, 46-64

  1. Jan. 27 Mon (2) Sources II: Customary International Law and General Principles

Reading: pp. 115-152

Courseware: Lowenfeld Declaration., Republic of Ecuador v. ChevronTexaco (2007)

  1. Jan. 29 Weds Sources III: In Context

Reading: n/a

Doc. Supp.: UN Women’s Convention, pp. 438-448

Courseware: Materials on Proposed CEDAW RUD’s and Ratification Debate;

Krishanthi v. Rajaratnam, 2010 WL 3429529 (D.N.J. Aug. 26, 2010),

reconsideration denied, 2011 WL 1885707 (D.N.J. May 11, 2011).

  1. Feb. 3 Mon (1)* Subjects I: States and Other Entities * = 8 a.m.

Reading: pp. 429-463

Courseware: Materials on New States; Materials on Admission of Palestine as UN Observer State; Zivotofsky ex rel. Zivotofsky v. Sec’y of State, 132 S.Ct. 1421 (2012)

  1. Feb. 3 Mon (2) Subjects II: The United Nations System and IMF/IBRD

Reading: pp. 463-501

Doc. Supp.: UN Charter (pp.1-27), esp. arts. 1-8, 33-51, 92-96, 102-103

Courseware: Materials on International Organization

  1. Feb. 5 Weds (1) Subjects III: Regional Organizations

Reading: pp. 501-533

Doc. Supp.: OAS Charter, pp. 288-300

Supplemental: Visit

  1. Feb. 5 Weds (2) Dispute Resolution I: International Court of Justice

Reading: pp. 283-289, 295-334

Doc. Supp.: ICJ Statute, pp. 28-42
No Class -- Feb 10 or 12

No Class -- Feb 17 or 19

  1. Feb. 20 Thurs Dispute Resolution II: Other Courts and Tribunals, Arbitration

Reading: pp. 334-341, 350-368, 378-90

Doc. Supp.: New York Convention, pp. 118-122; ICSID Convention, pp. 123-136

  1. Feb. 24 Mon International Law in U.S. Law I: Treaties and Executive Agreements

Reading: pp. 153-186, 202-207

Doc. Supp.: U.S. Constitution, arts. III and VI, pp. 77-79

Courseware: Materials on Disabilities Convention

  1. Feb. 26 Weds International Law in U.S. Law II: Customary International Law

Reading: pp. 240-268

Doc. Supp.: ATS and TVPA, pp. 101-102

Courseware: Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Shell Petroleum, 621 F.3d 111 (2nd Cir. 2010)

  1. March 3 Mon Jurisdiction/Allocation of Responsibility I

Reading: pp. 637-664

Courseware: State v. Jack, 125 P.3d 311 (Ala. 2005)

  1. March 5 Weds Jurisdiction/Allocation of Responsibility II

Reading: pp. 670-674, 684-710

Courseware: United States v. Bellaizac-Hurtado, 700 F.3d 1245 (11th Cir. 2012);

Materials on Universal Jurisdiction

No Class - March 10 or 12
15. March 17 Mon State Responsibility/Diplomatic Protection
Reading: pp. 721-747

Doc. Supp.: ILC Draft Articles, pp. 374-385

  1. March 19 Weds International Human Rights I

Reading: pp. 747-771

Doc. Supp.: UDHR, pp. 386-391; ICCPR, pp. 392- 407; ICESCR, pp. 414-422

  1. March 24 Mon International Human Rights II

Reading: pp. 771-812

Doc. Supp.: Senate Res. of Advice and Consent to ICCPR, pp. 408-410

Courseware: UN Human Rights Council Res 15/9 Right to Water (9.30.10

  1. March 26 Weds International Immunities: FSIA

Reading: pp. 535-562, 569-81, 585-587

Doc. Supp.: FSIA, pp. 301-316

Courseware: ASIL Insights on Samantar

  1. March 31 Mon Other Immunities, Act of State

Reading: pp. 604-636

Doc. Supp.: VCDR, pp. 317-330 (esp. arts. 22-25, 29-32, 39)

  1. April 2 Weds Private International Law

Reading: pp. 415-428; 710-719

Courseware: Stewart, Private International Law, 30 U. Pa. J. Int'l L. 1121 (2009)

  1. April 7 Mon Law of the Sea I

Reading: pp. 813-857

Doc. Supp.: UNCLOS, pp. 545 ff

  1. April 9 Weds Law of the Sea II

Reading: pp. 857-877

Doc. Supp.: UNCLOS, pp. 545 ff

Courseware: Materials on South China Sea

  1. April 14 Mon Use of Force I: Prohibitions, Exceptions, Justifications

Reading: pp. 931-973

Doc. Supp.: UN Definition of Aggression (1974), pp. 751-754

  1. April 16 Weds Use of Force II: Humanitarian Law, Intervention, War on Terrorism

Reading: pp. 977-985, 988-1013, 1023-1028; 1033-1045

Courseware: UNGA Res 53/144 (1999) Responsibility to Protect; Materials on Syria and R2P; Persky on Drones; Other Drone Materials

  1. April 21 Mon International Criminal Law

Reading: pp. 1083-1094, 1104-1116, 1140-1154

Doc. Supp.: Rome Statute, pp. 966-998

Courseware: Kampala Resolutions; United States v. Dire, 680 F.3d 446 (4th Cir. 2012)

  1. April 23 Weds Wrap Up and Review

Reading: none

Doc. Supp.: none
Exam: May 1 Tuesday 9 a.m.


This course is intended to introduc you to the study of the nature, sources, and operation of contemporary public international law.
The overall goal is to give you a better understanding of the nature and function of law in the global society, and of the U.S. legal system (and its methods), as well as to complement the rest of your studies by helping you learn to “think like an international lawyer.”
It also serves as a general precursor to other international law courses in the Georgetown Law curriculum, including International Law II (which covers international business and economic law), comparative law studies, and more specialized offerings.
Through our readings and discussion you should:

  • understand the key historical, legal, political, ethical and other factors that have influenced the evolution of international law;

  • become familiar with the actors and institutions that create and contribute to international law;

  • recognize that non-judicial sources play a major role in creating legal rules, and that lawyers need to know how to recognize, interpret and apply diverse sorts of legal materials;

  • appreciate the main tenets of contemporary international law and the key public policy issues and alternatives that shape the current international legal environment;

  • understand the role of international law in the U.S. legal system and how the United States organizes itself to participate in international life;

  • appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of the international legal system and how it compares to the domestic law system of the United States;

  • know where to find, how to research, how to read, and how to apply public international legal materials;

  • know the basic procedures for creating, interpreting, and applying treaties, custom, and other sources of international law;

  • ask in a more sophisticated way the basic questions about whether international law really is “law,” and about what the concept of “law” really means, especially within a system which does not have the same mechanisms for enforcement as we typically find in domestic law;

  • see the areas you cover in your other GULC courses from the vantage point of alternative foreign or international comparisons;

  • be exposed to some of the typical challenges and tasks of a lawyer in the international field, and have some simulated practice in the modes of analysis, argumentation, advocacy, etc. that have analogues in the domestic arena; and

  • become better equipped to be a “lifelong learner” in the field of public international law.

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