00230 - International Law

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Ravenna
  • Corso: Single cycle degree programme (LMCU) in Law (cod. 9233)

Learning outcomes

The course is aimed at introducing students to the fundamental tenets of contemporary international law.

Course contents

The three fundamental legal functions on which the legal dynamics of the international community is founded – law–making, law–determination and law–enforcement – will be analysed within the contemporary social context. International law will be presented in its different dimensions: as a tool in the hand of international actors able to handle change in the international society and safeguard stability and predictability of international legal relations; as common language useful in reaching consensus or, at least, ‘peaceful disagreement’; as key to understanding the reality of contemporary international relations. Bringing together different perspectives, the it will be shown how international rules, while made by governments and mostly addressed to them, can be of great relevance to private actors and to their interests. The course will touch upon the following subjects:

I. Law in International Society

– International Law in Historical and Evolutionary Perspectives

– International and Domestic Legal Orders: Analogies and Differences

– International Law in Social Context

– Relativity and Dialectics in the Interpretation of International Rules

– Effectiveness of International Rules: Spontaneous Observance and Forced Compliance

II. Formation and Transformation of International Law

– Absence of an International Legislature

– Modern International Society: Universalism and Consensualism

– Traditional Customary International Law

– Treaty Law as Integrative of or Alternative to Customary International Law: Codification and Custom as Tacit Agreement

– Recent Developments in the Sources of International Law

– The Formation of Unwritten International Law

– Custom

– General Principles

– Formation and Validity of Treaties

– “Soft Law”

– Stability and Change of International Rules

– Law–makers and Addresses of International Rules

– States as Subjects of International Law

– Intergovernmental Organizations

– Civil Society and NGOs

III. Ascertainment, Enforcement, (Non–)Observance of International Law

– Actors Ascertaining and Enforcing International Rules

– States: Interactions among Legislative, Administrative and Judicial Organs

– Intergovernmental Organizations: Settlement of Disputes Between States and Judicial Review over the Acts of the Organization

– Role of NGOs

– Judicial and Diplomatic Means of Dispute Settlement

– The Ascertainment of International Criminal Law

– Individual Criminal Responsibility and State Responsibility

– Basic Principles concerning the Ascertainment and Enforcement of International Rules

– Principles of Treaty Interpretation

– Rules Governing Invocation of Invalidity, Extinction or Suspension of Treaties

– Interpretation and Enforcement of International Custom

– The Role of General Principles in the Interpretation and Enforcement of International Law

– Conflict of Norms: General Principles (lex superior, lex posterior, lex specialis)

– Issues of Inter–temporal Law

– Breaches of the Law, Wrongfulness and International Responsibility

– State Responsibility

– Responsibility of Intergovernmental Organizations

IV. Coercive Enforcement of International Rules

– Spontaneous Observance and Alternative or Preventive Means opposed to Coercive Enforcement

– Self–help

– Countermeasures

– Legitimate Self–Defence

– The United Nations Collective Security System

– Coercive Action in Response to International Terrorism

– Coercive Enforcement of the Judgments of the International Court of Justice

– The Role of Domestic Legal Orders

V. Material law

– Law of the international organizations

– Human Rights Law

– International Environmental Law

– International Law of the Sea

– International Economic Law

– International law of immunities


A. Readings/Bibliography

General Part: A. Tanzi, Introduzione al diritto internazionale contemporaneo, CEDAM, Padova, 6a ed., 2019.

Special Part:

a) Elisa Baroncini, Il funzionamento dell'Organo d'appello dell'OMC: bilancio e prospettive, Wolters Kluwer - Bonomo, 2018


b) Elisa Baroncini (a cura di), Il diritto internazionale come strumento di risoluzione delle controversie, Bononia University Press, Bologna, 2018 (disponibile entro il 15 aprile 2018) - da questo volume occorre scegliere 15 sentenze

Teaching methods

Lectures and seminars.

Assessment methods

oral examination

Teaching tools

materials indicated during the lectures, power point presentations, videos

Office hours

See the website of Elisa Baroncini


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This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.