Primer on International Law

It is gratifying to note that this primer has been linked to by numerous Wikipedia articles, websites and course syllabi.  If you have any suggestions or corrections, please do not hesitate to submit them using the contact form or by email.


I. The Sources of International Law
-Customary International Law
-Treaties, General Principles, and Other Sources
-Judicial/Subsidiary Sources of International Law

II. The Relationship Between International and Domestic Law
-Domestic Law vs. International Law
-Customary Law
-Treaty Law

III. Executive Agreements
-In General
-What the President Can Do
-Purely Executive Powers vs. Shared Powers

IV. States
-Recognition of States
-Recognition of Governments
-Self Determination
-Sovereignty Over Land, Sea and Air

V. Non-State Entities: Organizations, Corporations and Individuals
-International Organizations
-Individuals and Nationality

VI. Jurisdiction
-General Principles
—–Prescriptive Jurisdiction
—–Enforcement Jurisdiction
-Conflicts of Jurisdiction

VII. Immunity from Jurisdiction
-Sovereign Immunity
-The Act of State Doctrine
-Immunity of State Representatives

VIII. The Law of the Sea
-Territorial Rights
-Transit Passage, Straits and Archipelagos

IX. International Environmental Law

X. International Agreements
-The Law of Treaties
-Nonbinding International Documents
-Capacity to Enter Into Treaties
-Making a Treaty
-Observance of Agreements
-Interpretation of Agreements
-Amendments and Modifications
-Invalidity of Treaties

XI. Human Rights
-Some U.S. Mechanisms Related to Human Rights
-State Involvement
-Substantive Bases of Responsibility
-Substantive Human Rights
-Fundamental Human Rights Violations
-What to Do When an American is Tortured by a Foreign Government
-Suspension of Human Rights
-Duplication of Claims

XII. Settling Disputes Peacefully
-The First Rule of the Use of Force Is Not to Use It
-Settling Disputes Peacefully
-Dispute Settlement through the U.N. and other international organizations
-International Arbitration
-Formal Adjudication: The International Court of Justice

XIII. The Use of Force
-Analysis for All Use-of-Force Issues
-Self Defense
-Uses of Force Permitted by Customary International Law, but not in UN Charter
—–Humanitarian Intervention
—–Intervention to Effect Changes
—–Intervention Against Terrorism
—–Intervention in Civil Wars
-Example: Nicaragua
-Necessity and Proportionality
-War Powers Resolution
-Collective Use of Force