Fall 2010 Class Descriptions
As of 4/25/2015 5:12:08 AM
This required course provides an introduction to the international dimensions of law. In today's world, it is essential that every lawyer understand the making and application of law beyond the domestic (American) orbit. Even though most graduates will practice law in the United States, virtually every area of law is affected by international aspects, whether through treaties regulating transnational economic relations, interactions with foreign law, and oversight by international organizations. Each area of the curriculum, from antitrust to intellectual property to civil rights to tax, is enmeshed within a complex web of international and foreign rules that the lawyer must understand.
Because the field of law outside U.S. domestic law is vast "public and private, international and foreign" the course seeks to provide students with the basic concepts and tools they can use to understand, take further courses in, and practice many specialized areas of law. Because the world lacks one authoritative legislature, executive, or judiciary, our understanding of law must consider a different range of methods for making, interpreting, and enforcing the law.
Although the specific coverage across faculty varies somewhat, the class will generally cover:
1. A basic introduction the state system
2. The making of international law, including treaty law, customary law, and "soft" law
3. The creation and evolution of states
4. International organizations, including global, regional, and functional bodies
5. Modalities of resolving transnational disputes, including diplomacy, sanctions, arbitration, and international courts
6. The role of corporations and NGOs in transnational system
7. The incorporation of international law into domestic legal systems, in particular that of the United States
8. The jurisdiction of states to make and apply law, including extraterritorial jurisdiction and immunity from jurisdiction
9. Certain selected topics of current concerns, e.g., human rights, the use of armed force, terrorism, and trade
10. The effectiveness of international law vs. domestic law
The following are comments from some professors teaching this course:
Monica Hakimi: I focus the first part of the semester on the structure of the international legal system (e.g., how and by whom international law is made, applied, and enforced; how international law is (and is not) incorporated into U.S. law; and how international law resolves conflicts between national exercises of authority). We then use that knowledge to assess three, particular substantive regimes: international arbitration, human rights, and the use of force.
Julian Mortenson: My section generally covers the standard topics, concluding with a unit that focuses in greater detail on international commercial arbitration as a method of resolving transnational disputes between private parties.
Steven Ratner: I spend about two-thirds of the course on the unique features of the transnational legal process, discussing modes of prescription of international law, key actors, and the relationship to domestic law. I tend to spend the remaining weeks on human rights, the use of force, and terrorism-related issues as case studies, though I may also address other topics. One key theme is the extent to which non-U.S. law actually influences the practice of law and relations among international actors; another is the importance of distinguishing actual law from mere claims to law.
Mathias Reimann: The hallmark of my version of the course is that it has two major parts. In the first part (one third of the course), I introduce students to the basics of the classical concept of (public) international law: states, sovereignty, sources, dispute resolution, interaction between international and domestic law; this is very simple so that everybody understands the fundamental terms and ideas. The second part (i.e., the remaining two thirds) then revisits each of these topics and shows how they have evolved in the over the last half-century into the "Complexities of the Modern Order". The main objective of this course structure is to ensure that students do not lose sight of the forest before the trees.
Tim Dickinson: My version of the course is similar to that of Professor Reimann as we use most of the same materials. However, as a lifelong practitioner in various areas of international business law, my course deals less with human rights and use of force than others but I try to add in "real life" discussion on issues that many students may face in private practice, from dispute resolution to drafting joint venture agreements. I also try to use current topics as sited in the media to demonstrate how the topics we discuss in class play out in the real world.