Public international law is the body of law that governs relations between states in the international system and, increasingly, regulates the treatment of individuals and corporations by states. The scope and importance of public international has expanded dramatically in the last century, as a result of acceleration in global trade – and the vast growth of international communications and transportation attendant to it; the escalation of international armed conflict; rapid deterioration of the environment across the globe; and increased international awareness of large-scale human rights violations. With the advent of the global war on terror and the continuing global financial crisis, public international law is evolving to meet new challenges.
This course will serve as a basic introduction to the rules, procedures, institutions and actors that are involved in the development, enforcement and adjudication of public international law. We will cover the nature and sources of international law; the role and influence of states, non-governmental organizations and international organizations; the law of treaties; customary international law; jurisdiction and immunities; the interpretation of international law by U.S. courts; the law governing the use of force; international dispute resolution; and the role of the United Nations and of international judicial bodies. In addition, the course will survey specific fields within international law such as human rights, law of the sea, international criminal law and international environmental law. The overview of the international legal system offered in the course will have an emphasis on current challenges and pressures including those posed by global warming, international terrorism and increased economic and financial globalization.