course themes

A principal goal of this course is to help you shape your own perspective on the roles and effectiveness of international tribunals in the international legal system and the legal trends that influence their success as mechanisms for international dispute resolution.

To that end, as you read the course materials and do research on your paper, we ask that you bear in mind the following questions, which encompass the general themes of this course:

  1. Is International Law "Law" that can be readily discerned and applied by courts?
  2. What role can and should international courts play in the "progressive development" of international law? (i.e., international courts don't create law, they "find" it in state custom and practice, but do international courts have a responsibility as a key actor in an international legal system that lacks a legislative function to progressively look for and "find" law?)
  3. Can international courts function credibly without compulsory jurisdiction and enforcement powers over states party to international disputes?
  4. Are all disputes involving violations of international customary norms or treaty obligations suitable for judicial resolution? Is judicial resolution always preferable to political/diplomatic means of dispute resolution?
  5. Are evolving regional and international systems of law (and their corresponding institutions) compatible, or will they lead to the disintegration of international law?
  6. Is the trend toward recognition of individual rights and responsibilities under international law consistent with an established legal system and institutions based on states parties and concepts of state sovereignty?
  7. What is a state and how does it interact with international dispute resolution mechanisms?
  8. What role does sovereignty play in international dispute resolution?
  9. What is the impact of politics on international dispute resolution?
  10. Does structure follow function, or function follow form, in international dispute resolution?