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International Dispute Settlement




Admissions requirements

Public International Law
Legal Methods is recommended.


This course provides a comprehensive introduction to international dispute settlement. The course is divided into four sections, and begins with an introduction to the obligation to settle peacefully international disputes and an overview of the various methods of peaceful dispute settlement. The second part of the course explores the non-judicial means of dispute settlement: negotiation, mediation, good offices, inquiry, and conciliation. The third part of 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 ad hoc arbitral tribunals in both inter-State and investor-State disputes. The course concludes by addressing selected issues related to international dispute settlement, such as provisional measures, the South China Sea arbitration, and the proliferation of international courts and tribunals.

Week 1: Introduction
Session 1: Introduction to the course
Session 2: The concept of “international dispute” and the variety of international disputes settlement mechanisms

Week 2: The obligation to settle international disputes peacefully and diplomatic dispute settlement means
Session 1: The obligation to settle international disputes peacefully
Session 2: Negotiations, good offices, mediation, inquiry and conciliation

Week 3: Legal dispute settlement mechanisms (1)
Session 1. Inter-state arbitration
Session 2: The International Court of Justice (1)

Week 4: Legal dispute settlement mechanisms (2)
Session 1: The International Court of Justice (2)
Session 2: Dispute Settlement Mechanisms under the Law of the Sea Convention

Week 5: Legal dispute settlement mechanisms (3)
Session 1: Dispute Settlement under the World Trade Organization
Session 2: Investor-State Dispute Settlement

Week 6: Selected international dispute settlement issues (1)
Session 1: Preliminary objections and provisional measures in international adjudication
Session 2: The South China Sea Arbitration

Week 7: Selected international dispute settlement issues (2)
Session 1: The proliferation of international courts and tribunals
Session 2: Review session

Course objectives

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  • Explain the foundations, the social and political context, and the workings 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 functions of the international courts and tribunals covered in the course;

  • Discuss and evaluate the procedural aspects of judgments or awards of international courts and tribunals;

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


Once available, timetables will be published in the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

This course will consist of lectures, class discussions, and occasional group exercises. Prior to each session, students are 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 student presentations and discussions of assigned cases. Students are expected to contribute actively to the class discussions.


Presentation/discussion/Class participation, 30%, Weeks 1-7
Essay, 30%, Week 5
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

J. Merrills, International Dispute Settlement (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

Links to additional reading materials 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. G. Pinzauti