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Advocacy and Litigation




Admission requirements

  • Classes of 2013-2016: similarly-tagged 200/300-level courses or permission from the instructor.

Course description

This course exposes students to the practice of public international law and it equips them with basic skills in legal reasoning, writing, and oral argumentation. We will start off with an introduction to the course and to the practice of public international law in its different forms. The course will address issues such as ethics before international courts and tribunals and challenges of international lawyers in the context of representation of States in international litigation, their role as negotiators and litigators. By working on mock exercises of negotiation and litigation, students will learn problem-solving skills and how to develop strategies for the resolution of international disputes. The course emphasizes the wide range of the international legal field, as well as current events as they are relevant for the practice of international law.

Weekly overview

Week 1
Session 1: Introduction and Overview
Session 2: Ethics

Week 2
Session 1: States as Clients
Session 2: International Lawyer as Prosecutor and Defence Counsel

Week 3
Session 1: International Lawyer as Negotiator
Session 2:Negotiation in humanitarian crisis

Week 4
Session 1: Mock Negotiation
Session 2: International Lawyer as Litigator

Week 5
Session 1: Transnational Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution
Session 2: Jurisdiction

Week 6
Session 1: Responsibility of International Organizations and Immunity
Session 2: Reading a case and Attribution (and review session)

Week 7
Session 1: Mock litigation exercise
Session 2: Visit to an International Court (TBA)

Week 8:
Reading week/Exam

Learning objectives

After successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Better understand the role of legal ethics

  • Appreciate the challenges lawyers encounter in negotiations and in a courtroom

  • Identify relevant facts and apply legal rules to those facts

  • Engage in legal reasoning and writing

  • Analyze legislation, treaties and judgment

  • Appreciate the importance of litigation strategy

  • Present oral arguments

Mode of instruction

Weekly lectures and workshops.

This course consists of fourteen two-hour sessions (two sessions per week, for seven weeks). The sessions will include some lecturing, but will rely on class participation in order to generate discussions of the assigned reading materials, which students are expected to come to class prepared to discuss. Students will work in groups for the mock negotiation exercise and the mock litigation exercise. The course will feature a guest lecture by an international legal practitioner as well as a visit to one of the international courts/tribunals based in the Hague, so that the students can observe legal proceedings first-hand.


Active contribution to seminar discussions
Ongoing Weeks 1-7

Mock negotiation exercise
Week 4 (TBC)

Written assignment – memorandum to principal
Week 5 (TBC)

Practice of litigation skills – Group, written arguments
Week 6 (TBC)

Practice of litigation skills – moot court exercise
Week 7 (TBC)

Compulsory textbook

None, links to articles will be placed on the Blackboard site of the course.

Contact information