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International Law


Espa I.

Course director

Colombo I.


Pandey A.



The course provides an overview of principles and current issues in public international law. The first part of the course explores the main sources, subjects, and means of dispute settlement in international law. Case studies addressing current issues will help understand how treaties are made and implemented, how international law addresses self-determination and secession claims, how international and supranational organizations function. The course includes a focus on the European Union, including its institutional framework and its role as a global actor.

The second part of the class proposes three selected topics: how international courts and tribunals, such as the International Court of Justice, aim at settling disputes; the use of force in international law with a focus on current issues such as the Ukraine war; business and human rights in the context of international law.

Basic textbook

Selected chapters of Malcolm Shaw, International Law (Cambridge University Press, 9th edition, 2021).

Additional reading

Selected articles and cases made available on the portal iCorsi.


At the end of the course, you will be able to: 

• Understand the main sources and actors of international law; 

• Explain the functioning and role of specific international organizations, in particular the United Nations and the European Union; 

• Explain the process through which treaties are adopted and implemented, in particular in Switzerland; 

• Judge about the legality of basic secession claims and territorial annexa-tion; 

• Judge about the legality of the military interventions; 

• Compare the effects of international dispute settlement mechanisms based on concrete examples; 

• Evaluate whether multinational enterprises should be directly bound by hu-man rights obligations; 

• Having the fundamental skills of international law necessary to study other areas of international law or to pursue a career in the international organiza-tions. 

Teaching mode

In presence

Learning methods

Lectures, in-class discussions

Examination information

Written exam