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International Dispute Settlement


Admission requirements

Any Global Justice course will provide access to this 300-level course, but prior courses with elements of public international law will be especially helpful.


This course provides a comprehensive analysis of the foundation and techniques of international dispute settlement. It starts with the introduction of the founding principles of international dispute settlement: the nature of international disputes, the significance of peaceful settlement in the development of the law and the obligation to resolve disputes peacefully. The second part of the course provides an in-depth analysis of the non-judicial settlement of disputes, focusing on both interstates techniques and the settlement of disputes by international organizations. The third part of the course studies the judicial settlement of disputes in relation to the International Court of Justice, the World Trade Organization and the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes. It concludes with a reflexion on the proliferation of dispute settlement mechanisms and the role of international law in settling disputes

Course objectives

After successfully completing this course, the student will have a thorough knowledge of and an insight into the fundament, the social and political context, the structure and the working of international dispute settlement. He will be able to apply the specific principles of international dispute settlement and to assess critically the benefits and weaknesses of specific dispute settlement models in various areas of international law. The student will have developed his writing skills and will draft a paper in a clear, structured and soundly argued way. He will also be able to participate efficiently in discussions, by explaining ideas and reasoning precisely. The student will also be able to appraise judgments and legal opinions critically on the basis of sound and convincing legal arguments having regard to other relevant developments.


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Mode of instruction

This course consists of interactive lectures to accustom students to the preparatory readings and to positioning the topic/theme and readings in the overall course design and objectives.
Each week has two sessions. In preparation for each session, students will be expected to have read the relevant section(s) of the textbook (see ‘Literature’ section below) in addition to other possible readings which will be made available to students via the electronic learning environment. Students are at the same time invited to go beyond the recommended readings.

As the course moves from the general introduction and the basic principles of international dispute settlement, the course will partly be devoted to case studies, which will be based on student presentations and subsequent group discussions and analyses. Therefore, from the second week onwards, each session will be divided into a 45-minute lecture and a 45-minute case study. Each student will be asked, for that second half of the session, to give a presentation based on a writing paper they are required to submit at the start of the lecture. Each week, several students will be asked to present the outcome of their paper as well as their critical assessment of the background reading. Each student will need to make two presentations at least. During each session, students will be expected to contribute actively to the class.

Assessment method

Students will be assessed based upon their written and oral contributions to the course and by a final exam.

  1. Interactive engagement with course material: assessed through In-class participation (10% of final grade): Week 1-7
  2. Ability to present and defend a structured and well-reasoned account of a contemporary issue in international dispute settlement: assessed through In-class group presentation (20% of final grade): Week 2-6
  3. Ability to write a structured and well-reasoned account of a contemporary issue in international dispute settlement: assessed through Short papers (1000 words) on the topic of the case study (30% of final grade): Week 2-6
  4. Expression of holistic understanding of the course: assessed through Final exam (40% of final grade): Week 7


This course is supported by a BlackBoard site

Reading list

J. Merrills, International Dispute Settlement (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).
Students will also be asked to read additional material related to specific topics. Such materials will be made available via the electronic learning environment.


This course is only open for LUC The Hague students.

Contact information


Weekly Overview

Week 1: Introduction to international dispute settlement
Week 1 will provide a general introduction to the objective and positioning of the course within the programme (link of the course with the Public International Law and Foundations of Justice courses) as well as to its content and its core concepts.

Week 2: The principles of international dispute settlement
Week 2 will analyze international dispute settlement in relation to the pacific settlement of disputes and the prohibition on the use of force. It will also introduce the judicial and non-judicial techniques to settle international disputes.

Week 3 Interstate dispute settlement methods
Week 3 will provide an in-depth analysis of the role and of the interstate dispute settlement methods, in particular negotiation, conciliation and mediation.

Week 4 International organisations and dispute settlement
Week 4 will investigate the role and function of international organizations in the settlement of international disputes, in particular of the United Nations and of regional organizations.

Week 5 Judicial dispute settlement methods
Week 5 will focus on the International Court of Justice. It will analyze its proceedings, its practice and its work.

Week 6 Commercial and Investment Disputes
Week 6 will be dedicated to the dispute settlement in international economic law. It will study the settlement of trade disputes in the frame of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as well as the settlement of investment disputes under the auspices of the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

Week 7 Future perspectives
The last week will investigate the proliferation of legal dispute settlement mechanisms in relation to the procedural fragmentation of international law and the legalization of international relations. The final exam will take place during the last session.

Preparation for first session