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Foreign Relations Law


Admission requirements

Required course(s):

At least two of the following three courses:

  • Structure and Functioning of the EU

  • Comparative Legal and Economic Integration

  • Constitutions and Constitutionalism

Recommended course(s):

  • Legal Methods Lab


Who has the power to declare war? Who decides which countries receive development aid? Which ones get sanctions; which ones arms? Who represents us at the UN? How many members of parliament are needed to ratify a new treaty; and how many to block it? In particular, how do the European Union and its Member States organize their relations with the rest of the world?

These are all legal questions—with an undoubtedly politically sensitive dimension—that are answered by a body of law called (Comparative) Foreign Relations Law. The latter is the set legal norms that regulate a polity’s relations and interactions with the outside world. It is closely related to, but distinct from, international law. In some cases, these rules may even require non-compliance with international obligations. Foreign Relations Law includes matters such as external representation, treaty-making powers, war powers, engaging with international institutions, federalism, as well as the role of the different branches of government regarding each of these issues.

Every country has its own foreign relations law, but also supranational and international organizations have rules on their relations with the rest of the world, albeit their ability to act independently from their respective member states varies. The course explores a select number of salient substantive issues of Foreign Relations Law. While using examples from different jurisdictions around the world, most of the course will be focused on the European Union and its Member States.

Course Objectives

After successful completion of the course, students are able to, in terms of knowledge:

  • Goal 1: Explain the main issues, features, concepts, and legal principles of foreign relations law;

  • Goal 2: Describe the relationship and differences between international law and a polity’s foreign relations law.

After successful completion of the course, students are able to, in terms of skills:

  • Goal 3: Compare different national frameworks of foreign relations law from around the world as well as those of supranational organizations like the EU;

  • Goal 4: Interpret and analyse legal texts and judgments (primary sources) in the field of foreign relations law, drawing on scholarly literature (secondary sources);

  • Goal 5: Apply legal research, writing, argumentation, and presentation skills in the framework of a case problem.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2020-2021 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

The course uses a variety of teaching methods, including lectures, student presentations and student-led, class discussion, as well as an interactive, student-led moot court. Teaching materials include primary sources (legal texts and judgments), secondary readings, and a moot court case (compromis).

Assessment Method

  • General participation (10%); Goals 1, 2, 3, and 4; ongoing weeks 1-7*

  • Critical Debate Leadership (15%); Goals 3 and 4; weeks 1-7

  • Final essay (35%); Goals 3 and 4; due in week 8

  • Moot court (40%) (5% for preliminary analysis; 17% for written pleadings/judgment; 18% for oral pleadings/rendition of judgment); Goal 5; week 7/8

Note: Due to the many public holidays in Block 4, assignments may be moved/extended by one week each.

Reading list

Course textbook to be acquired by the students:

  • Ramses Wessel and Joris Larik (eds), EU External Relations Law: Text, Cases and Materials (2nd edition, Hart Publishing, 2020)

Course textbook available online via Leiden Library:

  • Curtis Bradley, Oxford Handbook of Comparative Foreign Relations Law (Oxford University Press, 2019)

Generally recommended readings and research resources:

  • Curtis Bradley, Ashley Deeks and Jack Goldsmith, Foreign Relations Law: Cases and Materials (7th edition, Wolters Kluwer, 2020)

  • Franck Christian and Duchenne Geneviève (eds), L’action extérieure de l’Union européenne : rôle global, dimensions matérielles, aspects juridiques, valeurs (Academia-Bruylant, 2008)

  • Paul Craig and Gráinne de Búrca, EU Law: Text, Cases and Materials (6th edn, Oxford University Press, 2015)

  • Marise Cremona (ed), Structural Principles in EU External Relational Law (Hart Publishing 2018)

  • Marise Cremona and Anne Thies (eds), The European Court of Justice and External Relations Law: Constitutional Challenges (Hart Publishing, 2014)

  • Marise Cremona and Bruno De Witte (eds), EU Foreign Relations Law: Constitutional Fundamentals (Hart Publishing, 2008)

  • Marise Cremona, Joris Larik, Rena Lee, David Kleimann and Pascal Vennesson, ASEAN’s External Agreements: Law, Practice and the Quest for Collective Action (Cambridge University Press, 2015)

  • Louis Henkin, Foreign Affairs and the US Constitution (2nd edition, Clarendon Press, 1996)

  • Hermann-Josef Blanke and Stelio Mangiameli (eds), The Treaty on European Union (TEU): A Commentary (Springer, 2013)

  • Piet Eeckhout, EU External Relations Law (2nd edition, Oxford University Press, 2012)

  • Thomas Franck et al., Foreign Relations and National Security Law: Cases, Materials and Simulations (4th edition, West Academic Publishing, 2011)

  • Panos Koutrakos, EU International Relations Law (2nd edition, Hart Publishing, 2015)

  • Joris Larik, Foreign Policy Objectives in European Constitutional Law (Oxford University Press, 2016)

  • Campbell McLachlan, Foreign Relations Law (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

  • Eleftheria Neframi/Mauro Gatti, Constitutional Issues of EU External Relations Law (Nomos, 2018)

  • Eleftheria Neframi, L’action extérieure de l‘Union européenne: fondements, moyens, principes (L.G.D.J., 2010)

  • Robert Schütze, Foreign Affairs and the EU Constitution: Selected Essays (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

  • Bart Van Vooren, Steven Blockmans and Jan Wouters (eds), The EU’s Role in Global Governance: The Legal Dimension (Oxford University Press, 2013)

  • Andreas van Arnault (ed), Europäische Außenbeziehungen (Nomos, 2014)

  • John Yoo, The Powers of War and Peace: The Constitution and Foreign Affairs after 9/11 (University of Chicago Press, 2005)


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator, course.administration@luc.leidenuniv.nl.


Dr. Joris Larik, j.e.larik@luc.leidenuniv.nl