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International Dispute Settlement


Admission requirements

Required course(s):

Introduction to Public International Law


This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the law and practice of international dispute settlement. The course begins with an introduction to the obligation to settle international disputes peacefully and an overview of the fundamental principles of dispute settlement. The course then explores the non-judicial means of dispute settlement: negotiation, mediation, good offices, inquiry, and conciliation. Thereafter, the course focuses on the judicial settlement of disputes by international courts and tribunals, in particular the International Court of Justice, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea dispute settlement mechanisms, the dispute settlement procedures and mechanisms of the World Trade Organization, and arbitral tribunals in both inter-State and investor-State disputes. The course concludes by addressing select issues related to international dispute settlement, namely provisional measures, the proliferation of dispute settlement mechanisms and its impact on the fragmentation of international law, and compliance with judicial and arbitral decisions. Throughout the course, not only the “law”, but also the “politics” of dispute settlement will be addressed.

Course Objectives

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  • Explain the foundations and the key principles of international dispute settlement;

  • Explain the differences between diplomatic and judicial forms of dispute settlement, and assess the advantages and disadvantages of each method;

  • Describe the the basic features of the international courts and tribunals studied in the course;

  • Explain the rules governing the key procedural questions arising before the international courts and tribunals studied in the course;

  • Apply legal rules on procedural issues to novel factual situations and draw analogies with existing case law.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2022-2023 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

This course will consist of lectures, class discussions, and occasional group exercises. Prior to each session, students will be expected to have read the relevant section(s) of the textbook in addition to the other required readings. Students are also encouraged to delve into the recommended readings. Interactive lectures will introduce students to basic concepts and will involve discussions of the assigned readings. Beginning in the first week, each session will also include online student presentations and discussions of assigned cases. Students are expected to contribute actively to the class discussions.

Assessment Method

Students will be assessed on the basis of oral presentations, their contributions to class discussions, a case note, and a written essay, all of which should demonstrate critical engagement with the assigned materials. In addition, there will be a two-hour written exam in week 8 of the course.

Students are required to present a case (10 minutes) related to the topic discussed in class. The oral presentations will be evaluated on the basis of 1) the ability to present ideas orally in a clear, structured manner and 2) the ability to engage substantively with the assigned materials. Students are expected to contribute to class discussions. Their contributions will be evaluated on the basis of 1) the frequency of class participation, and 2) the quality of comments.

The essay will be assigned in week 3 and will be due at the end of week 5. The essay will be evaluated on the basis of 1) its content (legal analysis), 2) structure, 3) the ability to present ideas in a clear and persuasive way, and 4) the writing style. Students are expected to reference primary and secondary materials, and should use OSCOLA (Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities) for guidance in footnoting and formatting. Plagiarism is of course forbidden.

The final exam will take place in week 8 and will last for 2 hours. Students will be evaluated on the basis of their capacity to: 1) bring together and critically reflect on the different aspects of international dispute settlement discussed during the course; 2) use examples from the class to show what they have learned over the previous weeks; and 3) present arguments in a coherent and convincing way.

  • Presentation/discussion/class participation, 30%, Weeks 1-7

  • Essay, 30%, Week 5

  • Final exam, 40%, Week 8

Reading list


J. Merrills & E. de Brabandere, Merrills. International Dispute Settlement (7th ed, Cambridge University Press, 2022)

Primary materials and Secondary literature (e.g. judgments, journal articles, etc.)

Students will also be asked to read additional materials related to specific topics. They will be required to access most of them through the website of the Leiden Law School Library. Decisions of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) are available on the Court’s website:; those of the Permanent Court of Arbitration are available on

For background and short commentaries on many of the legal issues we will discuss, including the evolving Russian invasion of Ukraine, I recommend looking at the blogs, EJIL:Talk! ( ) and Opinio Juris ( .


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,


Dr. Giulia Pinzauti (Block 1)
Dr. Mamadou Hebié (Block 4)