Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course aims to present a panorama of the functioning and the general principles of PIL. It is designed to give students a global understanding of the rules governing international relations and aims at providing them with practical skills in legal reasoning and arguing on international issues.
At the end of the course, students are expected to be able:
- to know and to critically assess the general principles and norms that govern the relations between States, as well as the latter’s interactions with other international actors;
- to know and to critically assess the principles, the norms and the international practice relating to the use of force by States;
- to understand the main trends of development of PIL;
- to deepen in autonomy the study of the subject;
- to apply the knowledge thus acquired to practical cases; and
- to develop international legal arguments using a correct terminology and adequate reasoning.
Course contents summary
The course focuses on the theoretical foundations, on the functioning and on the limits of public international law (PIL). It is designed to give students a global understanding of the rules governing international relations and aims at providing them with practical skills in legal reasoning and arguing on international issues. The theoretical approach will be accompanied by punctual references to international practice and case-law, the examination of case-studies and the critical discussion of the most controversial issues.
The course is divided in two modules, one dealing with general issues of public international law (general module) and one focusing on the specific issue of the use of force (specific module).
In the GENERAL MODULE, after having defined PIL and framed its function in the dynamics of international relations, a special attention will be paid to the organization of the international community and to the functioning of its legal system. The following issues will be tackled:
- Who are the subjects and actors of PIL? States, International Organizations, individuals, and others.
- How is PIL made? Custom, treaties, general principles of law, and soft law. Codification of general international law. Peremptory norms.
- What are the fundamental principles of public international law? States’ territorial sovereignty and its limits.
- What is the role of domestic law in the implementation of PIL? Monism and dualism. Techniques of implementation and hierarchy between international and domestic norms in Italy.
- How does international law react to breaches of its norms? International responsibility for wrongful acts. The settlement of international disputes.
The SPECIAL MODULE will deal with the prohibition of the use of force by States, in both legal texts and practice, focusing on the following questions:
- How and when the prohibition of the use of force emerged in PIL?
- How was the U.N. collective security system designed and how has it been applied in practice?
- When States may unilaterally use force? The limits of self-defense and the question of humanitarian intervention.
B. CONFORTI, Diritto internazionale, IX ed., Ed. Scientifica, Napoli, 2010, except paras 17 (pp. 168-179) e 41 (pp. 354-369).
A. CASSESE and P. GAETA, Le sfide attuali del diritto internazionale, Il Mulino, Bologna, 2008, only Chapter I (pp.15-47).
The course will include taught classes and seminars. The theoretical approach will be integrated with punctual references to international practice and case-law, with the examination of case-studies and a critical discussion of most controversial issues.
Assessment methods and criteria
Oral examination, only for those students passing a multiple choices test.
The test and the oral examination will take place in the same day.
The test aims at ascertaining the basic knowledge of the subject and the understanding and practical application of its main features. The test will include ten multiple choice questions,. Of which: eight concerning fundamental notions and concepts and two relating to the latters’ application to practical cases. Each correct answer will give three points (3) and each wrong answers will result in a penalty of one point (-1). Blank questions do not give points or penalties. The test will be passed by those candidates summing up at least 18 point (18/30).
The oral examination will include at least two questions, one on the general module and one on the special module, with the aim of ascertaining:
- communication skills, through the evaluation of the candidate’s ability to organize coherently the argument, to give satisfying definitions, to use a correct legal language, and to elucidate the meaning of specific expressions or concepts;
- learning skills, through a further assessment of the knowledge and understanding of the course contents, as well as of their application to practical cases.