nl en

International Law and Human Rights



This course is an introduction to international law specifically tailored for students of political science and international relations. The first part of the course will outline the development of international law and its historic functions in regulating relations between different states and peoples. We will examine the constitutive role played by international law in the development of states and empires, as well as its emergence as the modern discipline we know in the late nineteenth century. Having established the context in which contemporary international law emerged and grappled with some of the contradictions it inherited, the second part of the course will then turn to the role that international law has played and continues to play in our current world. Using a few landmark cases as our anchor, we will examine some of the main political issues that have brought international law to the forefront of international relations studies, including human rights, terrorism, humanitarian intervention, and climate change.

Course Objectives:

First, the course will enable students to situate contemporary international law within its broader historical trajectory. This is essential for understanding the dynamic between international law and international politics, and for grasping the contingent character of rules that may otherwise seem set in stone.
Second, the course will provide students with a broad understanding of some of the core aspects of contemporary international law. Most importantly, they will familiarize themselves with the sources of international, with its primary actors, and with the main issues that have brought international law to the forefront of international relations over the past few decades.
Third, the course will empower students to think critically about the application of international law to various contemporary problems in international politics, from humanitarian intervention to climate change. Students will come out of this class not only with a better grasp of what international law can do to resolve contemporary issues, but also with some more informed opinions about the limits of international law as it stands, particularly in light of its historical legacies.

Mode of Instruction:


Study Material:

The reading list and the course syllabus will be posted on Brightspace before the start of the course

Mode of Assessment:

Final exam.

The time and location of inspection and debriefing of the exam will be announced via Brightspace no later than the publication of the grades


See general info on tab 'Year 2'

Timetable courses and exams