International Law - Courtney Hillebrecht, Ph.D.

M,W,F 1:30-2:30
Courtney Hillebrecht
526 Oldfather Hall
Office Hours: Mondays, 12:00-1:00
Coffee Hours: Fridays, 9:30-10:30
Email: [email protected]
Ph: 402.472.5973
This course is designed to provide an overview of one of the most salient trends in
international politics in the past 75 years: the development of international law and the
legalization of international relations. Throughout the course, we will focus on both the
structure and function of international law, as well as the politics that shape and are
shaped by international laws and institutions. We will balance our studies of specific legal
principles, treaties and court cases with analyses of international relations theory, the role
of power and politics in international law and the complex relationship between state
sovereignty and the international legal order. Students will engage with these questions
through class participation, exams, research projects and case reports, and they will learn
first-hand about the nexus between international law and politics through a mock trial
This course proceeds in three parts. The first section of the course is dedicated to
understanding what international law is and how it functions. The second section aims to
apply those concepts to specific issue areas, such as maritime law, the laws of war, and the
legal institutions that structure international trade and finance, among others. The final
section of the course examines the big picture: How does international law intersect with
domestic politics and institutions? When do states comply with international law? What
role, if any, does international law have in international politics?
In keeping with the Department of Political Science’s core objectives, by the end of the
semester students should: 1) understand the core theoretical frameworks in international
relations and international law and be able to apply these frameworks to contemporary
political and legal problems; 2) be familiar with the main concepts, ideas and actors in
international law and organizations and international relations; and 3) be able to use
evidence-based analysis to both form and evaluate arguments about the pursuit of power
in law and politics.
This course is designed to introduce students to the main theories, themes and concepts in
international law and politics and to sharpen students’ analytical skills. As such, our work
will consist of a series of exams, a mock trial and a set of essays related to the mock trial
experience. The requirements of the course follow:
Participation (15%): Attendance is mandatory. Our course will be run as a seminar,
and your daily contribution to discussion is crucial. This means coming to class having
read and thought about the readings. Come prepared to participate actively. Our
meetings will be punctuated with discussions of current events, and I expect you to
keep up with contemporary politics.
Midterms and Final Exam (15%, 15% and 25%, respectively): Students will take
three exams over the course of the semester. The midterms will be held on 2.8.12 and
3.14.12 during our regularly scheduled lecture time. The first midterm will cover all of
the material up to that point; the second midterm will cover all of the material we
discuss between the first and second exams. The final exam will be comprehensive and
cover ALL of the course content. The final exam will be on May 1, 2012 from 1:00-3:00.
We will have in-class review sessions for the exams on 2.6.12, 3.12.12 and 4.27.12. All
of the exams will consist of identifications, short answers and essay questions.
If you will be leaving Lincoln at the end of the semester, please plan your travel
accordingly. No late or make-up exam dates will be allowed.
Mock Trial (30% Total): Over the course of the semester we will stage two mock
trials. We will simulate the proceedings of the European Court of Human Rights, and
students will take on the roles of lawyers, judges, NGOs, victims, government
representatives and Council of Europe officials, among others. As part of the mock trial,
you will be evaluated on three different components: 1) your preparatory materials,
including an analysis of similar precedent, 2) your performance and participation
during the simulations, and 3) a reflective essay.
o Preparatory Materials (15%): In a 5 page memo, please provide: 1) A
summary of your preparatory process; 2) An analysis of two related cases that
you used to formulate your strategy for the case at hand (tbd); 3) your
interpretation of the case at hand; and 4) an outline of your strategy for the
mock trial based on that interpretation. Due March 26.
o Participation & Performance (5%): You will be evaluated on your
participation and performance in the trial. I will distribute an evaluation rubric
closer to the date of the mock trial, but in essence you will be evaluated on your
ability to articulate and act on key concepts and to think “on your feet” during
the mock trial. As we will revisit the mock trial during the last week of class, I
will also be looking to see if you improved from the first trial to the second.
More emphasis will be placed on the process than the outcome, although the
outcome still counts!
o Reflection (10%): Upon completing the mock trial, you will write a brief (4-5
page) reflective memo on the mock trial. The memo should include the following
components: 1) An explanation of your successes and challenges in participating
in the mock trial; 2) An analysis of the main concepts illustrated by the case; 3)
A “big-picture” analysis of the case and what it means for international law more
generally. Due April 27.
Readings: You should complete the assigned readings for the week prior to our
Monday class meetings. We will rely on a variety of texts this semester, including three
books for purchase (listed below and available at the UNL Bookstore) and a variety of
supplementary cases, articles and chapters that are available online on and through the
Cassese textbook’s Online Resource Center (ORC, available here: The
following books are required for our course:
1. Cassese, Antonio. International Law. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, USA, 2005.
2. Goldsmith, Jack L., and Eric A. Posner. The Limits of International Law. New York:
Oxford University Press, 2005.
3. Rochester, J. Martin. Between Peril and Promise: the Politics Of International Law. CQ
Press, 2006.
 Academic Honesty: I have a zero-tolerance policy for academic dishonesty. Academic
dishonesty will result in failure of the assignment and the class. Please refer to the
Student Handbook, the University’s Code of Conduct and the Office of Undergraduate
Studies’ document on academic integrity for the University’s policies on plagiarism,
cheating and other forms of academic dishonesty. If you have any questions concerning
the proper use of citations or sourcing, I would be more than happy to answer them.
Communication: The best way to get in touch with me is via email
([email protected]) or during office hours. This semester I will hold office hours
from 12:00-1:00 on Mondays and “coffee hour” from 9:30-10:30 on Fridays at the
Coffee House. I also am available by appointment. I rarely check voicemail, so please
do not leave me voicemail messages.
Deadlines: I expect that all students submit their work in a timely fashion and always
by the given deadlines. I will return your graded work in an equally timely manner.
Late papers will be penalized with a 5-point deduction from your assigned grade for
each 24-hour period past the deadline, including weekends and holidays. Please note
that I do not give incompletes for this course.
Emergencies: If an emergency should arise during the course of the semester that
prevents you from attending class or completing your work, please let me know as soon
as possible.
Learning Assistance: If you need learning assistance, please follow the appropriate
University and ADA policies: “Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact the
instructor for a confidential discussion of their individual needs for academic
accommodation. It is the policy of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to provide flexible
and individualized accommodation to students with documented disabilities that may
affect their ability to fully participate in course activities or to meet course
requirements. To receive accommodation services, students must be registered with
the Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) office, 132 Canfield Administration,
472-3787 voice or TTY.”
Grading Rubric
A = 93+
A- = 90-92
B+ = 87-89
B = 83-86
B- = 80-82
C+ = 77-79
C = 73-76
C- = 70-72
D+ = 67-69
D = 63-66
D- = 60-62
F = < 59
Week 1: States, Law and Authority in the International System (Jan. 9, 11 & 13)
 Cassese: Chapters 1 & 2. Skim Chapter 3.
 ORC:
o Peace of Westphalia.
o Kellogg-Briand Pact.
o UN Charter.
Week 2: How IL Works, 1: Subjects and Jurisdiction in IL (Jan. 18 & 20. No class Jan.
 Cassese: Chapters 4 & 6.
 ORC:
o Montevideo Convention.
o House of Lords, Regina v. Bartel, Case of Ex Parte Pinochet.
o International Court of Justice, Judgment of 24 May 1980 on the Case Concerning
U.S. Diplomatic and Consular Staff in Tehran.
Week 3: How IL Works, 2: Dispute Settlement and Adjudication (Jan. 23, 25, 27)
 Cassese: Chapters 13, 14 & 15.
 ORC:
o Sanctions and Human Rights: General Comment No. 8 of the Committee on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
 Additional Case: Military and Paramilitary Activities In and Against Nicaragua, ICJ, 1984
(Nicaragua v. United States of America). Read the summaries of the judgments.
Week 4: How IL Works, 3: Jus Cogens, Peremptory Norms and Universal Jurisdiction
(Jan. 30, Feb. 1 & 3)
 Cassese: Chapter 11.
 ORC:
o Hungarian Constitutional Court , decision No 53/1993.
o International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Furundzija, Judgment
of 10 December 1998, §§153-157.
 Additional Case: The Paquete Habana, 175 U.S. 677 (1900). Available:
Week 5: Midterm 1 and Midterm Review (Feb. 6, 8 & 10)
Week 6: Substantive Issues, 1: Land, Sea and Space (Feb. 13, 15 & 17)
 Cassese: Chapter 23.
 Rochester: Chapter 7.
 ORC:
o Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.
 Additional Case: U.K. v. Norway (Fisheries Case), ICJ, 1951. Read the summary of the
judgment. Available:
Week 7: Substantive Issues, 2: Just War & Jus ad Bellum (Feb. 20, 22 & 24)
 Cassese: Chapters 17 & 18.
 Rochester: Chapter 5.
 ORC:
o International Court of Justice, 2004 Advisory Opinion in the Legal Consequences
of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Week 8: Substantive Issues, 3: International Humanitarian Law & Jus en bello (Feb.
27 & 29. No class March 2, but mandatory attendance at human security colloquium)
 Cassese: Chapter 20 & 23.
 ORC:
o 1949 Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocols.
o ICTY Judgment in the Tadic Case (1995).
Week 9: Substantive Issues, 4: Laws of Trade and Finance (March 5, 7 & 9)
 Rochester: Chapter 6.
 Additional Case: The Tuna Dolphin Case (GATT/WTO/NAFTA). Summary available:
Week 10: Midterm 2 and Midterm Review (March 12, 14 & 16)
Week 11: No Class—Spring Break (March 19, 21 & 23)
Week 12: Mock Trial—European Court of Human Rights (March 26, 28 & 30)
 No readings this week. Details forthcoming.
Mock Trial Preparatory Materials Due 3.26.12.
Week 13: The Big Picture, 1: IL as “Nonsense” (April 2, 4 & 6)
 Goldmsith and Posner: Entire.
Week 14: The Big Picture, 2: IL—Constraining States and Constituting New Norms
(April 9, 11 & 13)
 Rochester: Chapters 1-5.
Week 15: The Big Picture, 3: What Role for International Law? (April 16, 18 & 20)
 Rochester: Chapter 9.
 Additional article(s) TBD by students’ substantive interests
Week 16: Mock-Trial, Revisited (April 23, 25 & 27)
Details forthcoming.
Mock Trial Reflective Memo Due 4.27.12.
Final Exam: Tuesday, May 1: 1-3pm