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Southern Oregon University

PS 421/521:  International Law (CRN 6573)
Taylor 26:  Tu/Th 10:30-12:20

Spring, 2013

Paul Pavlich
Office: TA 133A (Hours: M 2-4, W 12-2, F 11:30-12:30)


The objective for this course is to develop a sufficiently sophisticated understanding of law and international politics to enable students to appreciate the significance of international law.  A secondary objective is to develop an understanding of how municipal law (the law of nation-states) supports and enhances the international legal regime.

TEXT.  The text for the class is The Shield of Achilles by Phillip Bobbitt.  Additional course reading assignments are linked to the course web site.  These additional readings will form the core of the reading for the first half of the course with the Bobbitt text becoming the focus for the second half.

PEDAGOGY.  Classes will be conducted in a combination of lectures, classroom discussions, student presentations and Socratic dialogues. For those unfamiliar with Socratic method, students are called upon to answer a series of questions raised by or about the reading for the day. This process enhances student capacity to recognize and analyze questions and issues in forms other than those presented by the readings.

STUDENT EVALUATION.  Students will be evaluated on the basis of three take home exercises and participation in Socratic Dialogues.The take home exercises (worth 20, 40 and 40 points each) are to be typed and will be accompanied by detailed instructions.  All exams will be problem solving type problems encouraging students to think critically through a problem involving the relevance of law to structuring international relations. You will be asked to analyze the issues triggered by the problem, identifying various ways to frame and solve the problem. SOME outside research MAYBE necessary or helpful for the exams.  The Second Exercise may be done with a partner.

For the Socratic dialogue component, students will be required to respond orally to a series of questions drawn from the reading for the day.  Each day two or three students will be expected to take the lead in discussing that reading assignment.  These students in effect think out loud and in their responses to the instructor’s questions teach their peers the material for the day. Each student is expected to become one of the principal participants in three or four class Socratic dialogues during the term.  Students, who fail to participate, or participate in a grossly deficient manner, will lose points earned elsewhere in the class.

Here are some cautionary notes regarding grading for this class:

(A) Students should keep a copy of all written exercises. The burden of loss of any missing written work will rest entirely on the student.

(B) Class grades will be assigned based upon a rough curve comparing point totals accumulated by students over the entire term.  No individual exam will be assigned a letter grade.  Rather students earn points depending upon the comprehensiveness and cogency of their response.   After each graded exercise, students will be shown two "curves" enabling them (1) to compare their point totals with others for the discrete exam and (2) compare their cumulative point totals for all exams given by that point in the term.

(C) Other than as discussed in connection with class participation, class attendance is not considered when evaluating students.  You will be treated as mature individuals, capable of choosing responsibly whether to attend class on a given day.  Students should recognize that class meetings also serve as a medium for communicating to them about the class. Information concerning the class, not contained in the syllabus, is generally communicated at one class meeting and noted on the class website, but not repeated elsewhere.  This may include additional reading assignments, handouts, exercise information, modifications in the syllabus etc.  Students bear the entire responsibility to ensure that they understand the requirements for the class by either attending regularly or making other arrangements to ascertain how the course is moving.

(D) The principles espoused in the SOU policy on academic dishonesty are applicable to this class.

(E) If you are in need of academic support because of a documented disability (whether it is psychiatric, learning, mobility, health-related, or sensory), you may be eligible for academic accommodations through disability services for students. Contact Disability Services for Students; Director, DSS; 552-6213; or schedule an appointment in person at the ACCESS Center, Stevenson Union, Lower Level.


(Subject to change with very little notice)
(An on line legal dictionary is available at


April 2 Course overview:  Distinguish International Law, Municipal Law, International Politics and diplomacy.  Define scope and objectives of the class.  What is International Law?  Who would/has want it?  Who would/has opposed it?  Why do we have it?  Develop the centrality of sovereignty and states to International law.  Begin viewing feature film “Thirteen Days.”

April 4-11 Finish viewing Thirteen Days.  Discuss Thirteen Days and “Cyberspace and International Law” In particular note who the individuals are who animate or bring to life International law, and how that affects its operation.   Revisit the questions from the first day.

              U. N.  Charter Article I and Article II
             “U.S. and Russia Differ on a Treaty for Cyberspace”

April 9 First Exercise POSTED; due April 11 at beginning of class.


April 11 Island President video.  We will use many of the issues raised in The Island President to examine how International Law reached its current status and project its next challenges.

April 16-18  Develop the idea and history of International Law; focusing the central concepts and assumptions:  States, Sovereignty, Treaties, Multi-Government Institutions, Dispute Resolution, Human rights, “Public Goods.”  Revisit the original themes in terms of the WHO, WHAT, HOW and WHY  of International Law.  Discuss the developing “Constitutional Order” of International Law.  Compare to formation of the United States in the late 18th century.

READ:  Text: pp 353-364, Introduction to International Law, Robert Beckman and Dagmar Butte

April 23-25   Treaties & Custom.  The two principle sources of International Law are treaties and international custom.  These legal constructs function similarly to Municipal Law in many respects but we will focus on clarifying their unique attributes in international contexts.

READ:  Vienna Treaty on Treaties, Custom

April 30 Dispute Resolution: From International Court of Justice to Commercial Arbitration.  International Law provides dispute resolution services much as Municipal Law regimes.  The mechanisms for dispute resolution vary widely depend upon context, dispute and party interests.  We will examine range of dispute resolution options and develop the future trajectory of international dispute resolution.

READ: UN Charter on ICJ, ICJ HOME PAGE, Commercial Arbitration overview Sections:  I-VI & X-XII

(Suggested:  The Paquete Habana)

May 2 Human Rights  & International Criminal Court.  In the second half of the twentieth century, after World War II and the end of colonialism, the rigid adherence of International Law to preserving state sovereignty began to weaken.  The emergence of new parties with “International Legal Personality” is one of the defining elements of modern International Law.   


READ:  Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ICC, Rome Statute Signatory Chart

May 7 Climate Change.  The oceans, international seas, space and other “public goods” marks a new focus for International Law.  The challenges of global climate change raise similar problems and the modern era of International Law is compelled to come to grips with these and others.  They raise traditional problems relating to sovereignty but we also see the development of new international institutions to meet these challenges.

READ:  UN on Climate changeSummary after Doha 

May 9  Second Exercise Due (Distributed May 2)


May 14-16  The Peace of Paris.  The modern era of Globalization has its legal beginning in the “Peace of Paris” where democracy and free market became the ascendant form of political management and resource allocation.  This transformative moment has great significance for International Law as its objectives are redefined in line with these events.

READ:  Text pp 609-39

May 16-21 With the end of the Cold War and the absence of two great defining political powers, many contending legal paradigms emerge to provide a theoretical structure for International Law.  Each needs to be understood and appraised for how it serves to frame the purpose and means for international legal institutions.

READ:  Text pp 639-663,  New Wars:  Use of Commandos in Mali

May 23 Among the first questions confronting the international legal community is the nature of the “state.”  The “nation-state” has lost its significance and its replacement the “market-state” stands in a much different relationship with its citizens.  The new “identity” for states has broad ramifications for International Law.

READ:  Text pp 667-77

May 28   MARKET STATE CHALLENGE #1:  The cruel legacy of the end of the Cold War is that extraordinary quantities of weapons of mass destruction were stockpiled, but never used.  They have not gone away and states in transformation, with weakened legitimacy and unstable regimes now exercise “control” over them raising a host of questions for the next generation of international lawyers

READ:  Text pp 677-95

May 30-JUNE 4  MARKET STATE CHALLENGES ##2-5:  With the transformation of the state, the realms of international environmental law, immigration, trade, finance and cultural homogenization will challenge and require innovative responses from new legal institutions.

READ:  Text pp 695-714

June 4-6  Bobbitt outlines a set science fiction quality scenarios to try to test the readers capacity to grasp the development and transformation of law in international settings.  For the last couple of classes we will examine these "fantastic" futures to better understand the future of law.

READ:  Text pp 714-775



JUNE 11 Noon  Last Exercise due (distributed June 4).