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Sovereignty and Statehood




Admissions requirements



This course examines the role of sovereignty and statehood in today’s world order. It begins with an overview of the concept of sovereignty and continues with the history of statehood, covering colonialism, decolonization and self-determination. Students will gain a firm understanding of the historical, legal and political foundations of sovereignty, and the role of statehood in international law and international relations. The lectures will introduce key concepts such as: sovereignty, the legal personality of states; the criteria, forms and attributes of statehood; the recognition of emerging states; self-determination etc. The lecture material is contextualised in the second part of the course through a series of case studies. These provide practical, present-day examples of the tensions between sovereignty, statehood and international intervention. Sovereignty and Statehood is the first in a trilogy of courses in the International Justice Major. It lays the foundations for success in the upper level courses in the Major, by developing the skills necessary to form independent and well-founded opinions on the central questions of contemporary international law.

Course objectives


  • Discuss and apply the relevant law to actual cases involving issues of statehood and sovereignty

  • Analyse international treaties and judgments in order to reflect on outcomes of international disputes;

  • Develop and present sophisticated and coherent arguments both orally and in writing.


  • Understand the origins and development of the notion of sovereignty and how it relates to statehood;

  • Comprehend the history of statehood and the impact that the eras of colonialism, decolonisation and globalisation have on sovereignty and statehood;

  • Appreciate the ramifications of changes in geopolitical landscapes;

  • Understand contributing historical and socio-political factors that shape decision-making in global affairs;

  • Identify relevant legal limitations on political decision-making practices;


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The course consists of interactive lectures to accustom students with the preparatory readings and to position the weekly topics, themes, and readings in the overall context of the course. Students will work on assigned case studies.


  • In-class participation– 10% – Ongoing Weeks 1-7

  • In-class presentation - 20% - week 4, 5 or 6

  • Individual research paper – 30% - week 4, 5 or 6

  • Final exam – 40% – Week 8


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Course textbook to be purchased by students: M. Shaw, International Law, 7th edition (2014)

Additional required reading material will be made available on Blackboard.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr. M. Pichou