[Seminar on International Courts--39.738--Fall 1999--John Heywood & Chris Brantley, Professors]

Course Syllabus


I. Course Description

Introduction to the practice of international courts and arbitral tribunals and their role in the development of international law. Offered in a seminar format using lectures, case-studies, and class exercises as teaching methods, the course will outline the evolution and structure of international tribunals, examine the development of international legal principles by international tribunals with reference to "sources" methodology, and discuss issues concerning the effectiveness and future role of international courts in the development of international law.

II. Course Goals

  1. Introduce students to the historical evolution, structure, and function of international tribunals within the international legal system.

  2. Reinforce students' conceptual understanding of the sources of international law and their inter-relationships.

  3. Examine selected international legal issues and modes of legal argumentation using class exercises simulating international judicial dispute resolution.

  4. Outline issues concerning the effectiveness of international tribunals as dispute resolution mechanisms and their future.

III. Office Hours, Telephone Numbers, E-Mail, and the Ubiquitous Website

John's office is in Room 115 (inside the Law Library). His office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. John will also be available for a short time after class, and by special appointment. John's office telephone is 202-274-4329, and his home telephone is 301-445-7488. His e-mail address is: heywood@american.edu

Chris works downtown for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (1828 L Street, NW, Suite 1202). He will be available after class, and you can telephone to make arrangements to meet with him in his office. Chris's office telephone is 202-785-0017, and his home telephone is 301-439-7729. His e-mail address is: c.brantley@ieee.org

Like every commercial on television these days, we have a website:


The entire set of 2000 Course Materials is (or will be soon) on the website. In addition, we will post additional materials, reference sources, and other useful items of interest to the class.

We will also be experimenting with a new technology, Blackboard®. While Blackboard® has many features, we will be using the Discussion Board feature primarily. This is a forum for the class to continue the in-class discussion, jointly prepare presentations, comment on the issues at hand, or ask questions related to the course or any of its topics. This discussion will count toward your class participation grade. You are also required to check your email regularly for this class, as we will post important announcements by email first (we will also put them on the website and the Blackboard® announcements page.

IV. Course Requirements

70 % Scholarly Paper: (30+ pages, exclusive of notes, double-spaced with one inch margins) based on a topic relating to the role of an international tribunal(s) in the development of international law. A written topic proposal must be presented for approval by 26 September 2000. The paper will satisfy the W.C.L. Upper Level Writing Requirement.

20 % Class Presentation: 5 minute topic presentation to the class early in the semester and a 20 minute major class presentation on paper topic at the end of the semester. The grade will be based on the following factors: preparation, organization, grasp of topic, effective use of time, and responsiveness to questions.

10 % Class Participation: evaluation of attendance, preparation for and participation in class room discussion, participation in the online discussion, and participation in class exercises.

V. Attendance

All students are expected to attend and participate in classes. More than three unexcused absences will result in entry of a failing grade for the course.

VI. Late Papers and Plagiarism

VI. Late papers and Plagiarism

Late Papers

Papers are due in John Heywood's office no later than 4:00 p.m. on Monday, 4 December 2000. This is during Reading Period. If you are a student who is graduating this December, you MUST get your paper in to us by this date in order to graduate. We need time to read and evaluate your work before assigning a grade. If you miss this deadline, we may not be able to turn your grade in to the Registrar in time for you to graduate.

Papers turned in after this date and time without a previously approved extension will be penalized one parital letter grade for every weekday (excluding holidays) after the due date. A partial letter grade is the step between any of the following grades: A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, F. The day ends at 4:00 p.m.

Example: A paper is turned in at 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday, 6 December 2000, without a pre-approved extension. If the paper had been turned in on time, it would have received a B+. The paper was effectively handed in on Thursday, 7 December 2000, and is thus 3 days late. It receives the grade of C.

Short extensions for worthy causes, such as computer failure, death in the family, my dog ate my disk/paper, etc., will be granted with no penalty if you apply for it before the time the paper is due. (i.e., If you are printing out your paper 10 minutes before 4:00 p.m. on the fourth of December and your computer dies, call us immediately.) These extensions will be very short in duration; no more than a day or two.

Plagiarism and Related Problems

Everyone knows that plagiarism is wrong, but not everyone is clear on what exactly is plagiarism. It is the gravest of the academic sins, and it is more than just copying without attribution. We have listed the various forms of plagiarism below in descending order of gravity, (1) being classic absolute plagiarism, and (9) being a much lesser version. All of them should be avoided. Non-de minimus plagiarism will be punished. It will result in zero points for the paper, and thus an F for the course. The case will also be turned over to the Office of Student Affairs for prosecution under the W.C.L. Honor Code.

Plagiarism is:

  1. Word-for-word lifting of seven consecutive words or more, without quotation marks or block quotation, and without attribution to any source.

  2. Word-for-word lifting of seven consecutive words or more, without quotation marks or block quotation, with an attribution to a source that was not the original source from which the passage was actually lifted nor the source cited (if any) by that original source.

  3. Word-for-word lifting of seven consecutive words or more, without quotation marks or block quotation, with attribution to a source that was not the original source from which the passage was actually lifted, but was a source cited by that original source.

  4. Word-for-word lifting of seven consecutive words or more, with attribution to the original source from which the passage was actually lifted, but without indication that these are the words of another.

  5. Word-for-word lifting of seven consecutive words or more, without quotation marks or block quotation, with attribution to the original source from which the passage was actually lifted, and with the indication that these are the words of another.

  6. Attributing a quoted passage to a source that does not contain that quoted passage.

  7. Attributing material to a source that does not support the passage for which it is cited.

  8. Misquoting a source.

  9. Lifting a quoted passage and its attribution from a source without acknowledgment or other indication. An example of this would be if you were reading an article by Smith that quoted another article by Jones, and you put the quotation in your paper with an attribution to Jones, but no mention that you got it from Smith who was quoting Jones.

VII. Class Outline

Class 1 - Introduction to Course
22 August 2000

Class 2 - Researching and Writing on International Law
29 August 2000

Class 3 & 4 - Structure of International Courts
5 September & 12 September 2000

Classes 5, 6, & 7 - Jurisdiction of International Courts
19 September, 26 September, & 3 October 2000

Class 8 & 9 - Procedure in International Courts
10 October & 17 October 2000

Class 10 & 11 - (I)The Development of International Law in International and National Tribunals and (II)The Role and Assessment of International Courts
24 October & 31 October 2000

Classes 12 to 14 - Class Presentations
7 November, 14 November, & 21 November 2000