Course Schedule

See below for details.



Farzad Fallah


Course Description

The birth and development of modern international law is a debated issue. From views tracing back its birth to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 all the way to the late 19th Century Europe, and its major modifications and complexifications after the Second World War, commentators and lawyers seem unable to draw consensus as to the starting point, or anything approximating to it, of international law. Be that as it may, this course attempts to sketch out a comprehensive overview of international law as we understand it today. 

For this, we will examine several foundational regimes and concepts of international law, namely the sources and subjects of international law, the law of treaties, the law of international responsibility, use of force, international humanitarian law, peaceful settlement of international disputes, international human rights law, international environmental law, among others. 



The goal and objective of this course is to supplement and enhance the already existing knowledge of the class on international law in a comprehensive way, enabling and equipping the students with the necessary toolkits in analysing international legal phenomena. 


Teaching method

The course will be taught in an interactive way, which entails that students should prepare before class, do the readings (which would be available on Moodle), and actively participate in each session.



The final grade for the course is determined in the following manner:

15% Class Participation

25% Response Paper

60% Final Exam

Response Papers, maximum 1000 words, consist of a critical summary of the reading materials for the early March session, and must be submitted 48 hours in advance to that class. Samples of response papers would be distributed in advance and written feedback would be provided for improvement. 

Final exam will be held on 28 March 2024 in class for a duration of 4 hours, and involves answering 2 out of 3 questions, to be announced on the date of the exam. The use of paper or online material for the exam is allowed. 




Session 1. Introduction to the Course (February 6) 10:40 – 12:10

In this session, we discuss the overall structure of the course and the method of teaching and evaluation.


Session 2 & 3. Subjects of International Law (February 13) 09:00 – 12:10

In this session, we discuss one of the paramount topics of public international law, namely the subjects of international law. In the mainstream literature, States, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, and individuals are deemed as actors of international law, meaning that they participate in the process of creation, development, and implementation of international legal rules, and they may bear responsibility and enjoy privileges in a legal fashion. In the first part, and building on the discussions in Session 1, we discuss State and Statehood under international law in more detail. In Session 2, we discuss international organizations as another example of the main subjects of international law, in light of the available international jurisprudence and academic writings. The readings for the session are divided below accordingly. 

Part I: State 

(09:00 – 10:30)


Required Readings

- Rebecca M.M. Wallace, International Law, Sweet & Maxwell, 2002, at 56-66


- Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, signed 26 December 1933, 165 LNTS 19, entered into force 26 December 1934, Art 1(a–d).


Optional Readings

- Tom Sparks, ‘State’, in Jean D’Aspremont & Sahib Singh (eds.), Concepts for International Law: Contributions to Disciplinary Thought, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2019, at 838-849.


Part II: International Organizations, Individuals, and Others

(10:40 – 12:10)

Required Readings

- Rebecca M.M. Wallace, International Law, Sweet & Maxwell, 2002, at 66-75.

- International Court of Justice, Reparation for Injuries Suffered in the Service of the United Nations, Advisory Opinion of 11 April 1949, at 7-8.

Optional Readings

- Jacob Katz Cogan, ‘International Organizations’, in in Jean D’Aspremont & Sahib Singh (eds.), Concepts for International Law: Contributions to Disciplinary Thought, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2019, at 540-549.


Session 4 & 5. Sources of International Law (February 15) 09:00 – 12:10

In this session, we examine the sources of international law, meaning the sources from which international legal obligations are derived, namely international treaties, customary international law, general principles of the law, and writings of highly qualified publicists of international law as subsidiary means of determining the law. This is reflected in Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice.


Part I: Law of Treaties & Customary International Law


Required Readings

- Rebecca M.M. Wallace, International Law, Sweet & Maxwell, 2002, at 7-22.


United Nations, Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 1155, p. 331, 23 May 1969, especially Articles 1, 2, 3, 31 & 32.


Optional Readings

- Scott Davidson, The Law of Treaties, Routledge, 2004. 


Part II: General Principles of the Law & International Legal Scholarship


Required Readings

Rebecca M.M. Wallace, International Law, Sweet & Maxwell, 2002, at 22-34.


The course provides an overview of the Swiss legal system: both public and private law.

The course consists of lectures and seminars. 

Each lecture includes slides, a glossary (Russian-English-French), additional material for reading and studying, tests, tasks, analysis of judicial practice.

Responsibility is a cardinal concept of law in general, a crucial element for a functioning legal system, and even more for international law. At the same time, we use the term ‘responsibility’ in different ways, and for different implications. In this course, we will explore the most common notions of responsibility in international law, its main elements, and the consequences thereof. Although the state is still the primary subject of international law, given the highly globalised context and the wide array of actors involved in international relations, the course not only focuses on the responsibility of states but also of other actors facing new challenges. 

In that sense, the course is divided into fourth parts: (i) general background (history, definition, codification); (ii) the main elements of international responsibility (internationally wrongful act, attribution, circumstances precluding wrongfulness); (iii) the consequences of international responsibility (duty of performance, cessation, reparation, countermeasures, invocation), and (iv) the implications of international responsibility in other areas of international law (armed conflicts, economic law, environmental and climate change law, international adjudication).