00230 - International Law

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2020/2021

Learning outcomes

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

Course contents

The course illustrates the law–making, law–determination and law–enforcement of the rules of the International Community.

Specific regard will be devoted to differences and similarities between international law and domestic law. In order to facilitate the understanding of the contents of the course, special focus will be devoted to the past and current social-political events in the International Community.

International law will be presented in its various dimensions, namely: (a) as a source of rules of conduct for States (and their organs) in exercising their sovereignty on international issues; (b) as a communication tool aimed at reaching a consensus or, at least, as a peaceful instrument for managing disagreements; (c) as for a prism through which to look at the current political and social events in the International Community; (d) as a concrete tool to handle changes and challenges and to safeguard of the core stability and predictability of international legal relations;

The course will address 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 the 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 legislature universal law-making organ
  • Modern international society between “Internationalism” and “Nationalism”
  • Customary international law
  • International agreements, treaties of codification and custom as tacit agreement
  • General principles of law
  • “Soft- law” instruments
  • Conflicts and compatibility between international rules
  • Subjects of international law: States, intergovernmental and non-governamental organizations.

III. Ascertainment of, Application of and Compliance with International Law

  • The role of States and of theirs legislative, administrative and judicial bodies
  • Intergovernmental Organizations and the settlement of disputes between States
  • The Role of NGOs
  • Judicial function and diplomatic settlement of international disputes
  • The ascertainment of International Criminal Law
  • Individual criminal responsibility and State responsibility
  • Basic principles on ascertainment and application of international rules
  • Treaty interpretation
  • Invalidity, extinction or suspension of treaties
  • Interpretation and application of international custom
  • General principles in the interpretation and application of international law
  • Conflict of rules: lex superior, lex posterior, lex specialis
  • Non-compliance, unlawfulness and international responsibility of States and intergovernmental organizations

IV. Execution of International Rules

  • Countermeasures
  • Self–Defence
  • The United Nations collective security system
  • The role of domestic legal orders

V. Substantive law

  • Human Rights Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Law of the Sea
  • Economic Law
  • Law of Immunities
  • International Organizations
  • Migration law


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

Teaching methods

Classes will mostly be held by the teacher. At the end of each lecture, a brief question and answer session will be provided.

Assessment methods

The following assessment methods are applied to all students, irrespective of the academic year of enrolment, for "Diritto internazionale (Italian language)" and "International Law (English Language)".

"Foundations of international law" students will only take an oral exam.

This assessment method will be applied starting from the May 2020 session until the Academic Authorities will authorise exams in person.

The final examination will be exclusively composed of a written test through EOL digital platform, consisting in 31 multiple choice questions with a duration of 40 minutes.

Each question will have four (4) possible answers, only one being correct.

  1. A right answer involves 1pt.
  2. A wrong answer involves 0 pt.
  3. Due to technical reason, missed answers will not be possible.

The sum of points gained by answering correctly will define the mark (31=30L). A candidate may refuse the mark, as usual.

The test will be avalable on EOL only after the end of the enrolment for the exam on AlmaEsami.

Enrolment lists will close 5 days before the date of the exam. Students must enroll in that period. Teachers may not add students after the closure of the enrolment period.

Test results will be published on the same date of the exam on the teacher website. Due to privacy, students will be identified through their Student number.

Students may refuse the mark within 72 hours through e-mail to be sent to Dr Alessandro Senaldi (alessandro.senaldi2@unibo.it).

After 72 hours, the mark will be considered as accepted by the student.

Exames will be held on the following dates:


  • Exam of 22 December 2020 (only SVIC Erasmus students): enrolment list closes on 17 December; mark to be refused before 25 December.
  • Exam of 7 January 2021: enrolment list closes on 2 January; mark to be refused before 10 January.
  • Exam of 28 January 2021: enrolment list closes on 23 January; mark to be refused before 31 January.
  • Exam of 12 February 2021: enrolment list closes on 7 February; mark to be refused before 15 February.

Technical indications

  1. On the day of the exam, click on the Zoom link received on your unibo e-mail. To log in, click on "Sign in with SSO" and type down the "unibo.zoom.us" domain, then insert the UNIBO credentials. Further information may be found here [https://www.unibo.it/en/services-and-opportunities/online-services/online-services-for-students-1/lessons-and-exams-online] .
  2. Go to EOL (https://eol.unibo.it/).
    (a) On the upper right corner, click on log in and digit your UNIBO credentials.
    (b) Look for "Appelli di ATTILA MASSIMILIANO TANZI" and click on the word "Appelli".
    (c) Scroll down the page until you reach the "Exams of International Law" section.
    (e) Click on the "Exam of [date of the exam]" title.
    (f) Scroll down the page and click on "Attempt the test".
    (g) Digit the password that the examiner will provide you. Do not copy and paste it from the chat.
  3. The test will automaticaly close 40 minutes after the student has started it.

Office hours

See the website of Attila Massimiliano Tanzi

See the website of Ludovica Chiussi Curzi