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School of Law

Law and policy of international courts and tribunals

Course Code:
15PLAH026
Unit value:
0.5
Taught in:
Term 2

This course examines international institutional efforts for resolving international disputes, including both adjudicatory (courts and tribunals) and non-adjudicatory (mediation, conciliation etc) institutions and processes. 

The course considers the legal and policy issues that influence choices as to different approaches to disputes (for example negotiatory or adjudicative) and the choice of a particular forum (or fora). The course focuses on the law and practice of the International Court of Justice, the European Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights, the WTO Appellate Body, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, ICSID, and the International Criminal Court.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

At the end of the course students should have an understanding of:

  • the requirements of the general obligation under international law to settle disputes peacefully;
  • the historical evolution and contemporary understandings of the mechanisms available for dispute resolution enumerated in United Nations Charter Article 33: negotiation, inquiry; mediation; conciliation; arbitration; judicial settlement.
  • legal and policy issues associated with the composition, functioning and powers of the permanent and ad hoc international courts and tribunals;
  • the respective advantages and disadvantages of these various mechanisms, the interplay between them, and the factors that influence their effectiveness;
  • the role and interests of the various disputants and interested third parties in proceedings before these mechanisms;
  • the place which these mechanisms have in the international legal order, and their relationship to national bodies.

Method of assessment

Assessment weighting: 70% unseen written examination, 30% coursework (3,000 word essay).  Coursework may be resubmitted.