00230 - International Law (A-C)

Course Unit Page


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

Quality education Clean water and sanitation Climate Action Peace, justice and strong institutions

Academic Year 2021/2022

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.

1-5 ECTs Exam:
1 ECT: A. Tanzi, Introduzione al diritto internazionale contemporaneo, CEDAM, Padua, 6th ed., 2019, Part I.
2 ECTs: A. Tanzi, Introduzione al diritto internazionale contemporaneo, CEDAM, Padua, 6th ed., 2019, Part IV.
3 ECTs: A. Tanzi, Introduzione al diritto internazionale contemporaneo, CEDAM, Padua, 6th ed., 2019, Parts III and IV.
4 ECTs: A. Tanzi, Introduzione al diritto internazionale contemporaneo, CEDAM, Padova, 6a ed., 2019, Parts II, III e IV.
5 ECTs: A. Tanzi, Introduzione al diritto internazionale contemporaneo, CEDAM, Padova, 6a ed., 2019, Parts I, II, III e IV.

Teaching methods

Classes will mostly be held by the teacher. He will stimulate interactions with students through questions, in order to ease the understanding of complex issues, or ones at least not immediately understandable.

Working groups will be constituted in order to deliver presentations on select topics of international law during the course.

The topic addressed by a working group will define one of the questions of the oral exam.

Assessment methods

The following assessment methods are applied to all students, irrespective of the academic year of enrolment.

See the news concerning the extraordinary assessment method during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Final examination will be composed of a written preliminary part, and then an oral examination.

A. Written test: a multiple–choice test consisting of 15 questions, with a duration of 20 minutes, having the following structure:

  1. Each question will have four (4) possible answers, only one being correct.
  2. A right answer involves 1pt.
  3. A wrong answer involves 0 pt.
  4. A missed answer involves 0 pt.

The written test is passed by attaining 10 points, that is by answering correctly at least to 10 questions.

Success in the written test is required to take the oral examination. It does not affect the final mark, which stems from the oral exam.

B. Oral test: consisting of 3 or more questions. For students who have participated in a working group, one of the questions will revolve around the topic addressed by the group.

The two parts of the examination will be entirely carried out on the same day. At the end of the written test, the tests will be corrected and the results published.

The oral examination will begin by the afternoon. The oral exam will follow the alphabetical order of the admitted students.

Students with 1–5 ECTs program

Students with 1–3 ECTs program will have to take the exam exclusively in oral form.

Office hours

See the website of Attila Massimiliano Tanzi

See the website of Ludovica Chiussi Curzi