International Diplomatic Law

Course content

Diplomatic law is a field of international law governing the worldwide practice of diplomacy by states, nations, and international organisations. Underlying modern diplomatic relations and practice is the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, which provides the international legal underpinning for the actions of diplomats around the round, owing to the fact that it is widely ratified by most nation states. The Convention is one of the most successful instruments of international law that have been crafted to date, which within representatives of sending states, and hosting states, both have rights and responsibilities. Under the auspices of the United Nations, it codified existing practices of diplomacy, and allows for the progressive development of the field. The course, emanating from the research activities of the Centre for Comparative and European Constitutional Studies at the Faculty of Law, aims to deliver research-based teaching to the course, taking a direct approach to international diplomatic law by discussing the various aspects of diplomacy that are of relevance for its effectiveness.

The issues to be discussed throughout the term include: the legal establishment of diplomatic relations, the diplomatic immunities and privileges covering both the property and personal elements in their different guises, the categories of diplomatic missions and agents, in addition to focusing on the functions and duties that are legally afforded to such individuals, including the position of Heads of State and Government.

Furthermore, consular law within the realm of international diplomatic law is covered, as is diplomatic asylum and the status of international organisations, including the sui generis nature of European Union, as they try to craft themselves into the state-centred legal field. As the EU legal order becomes a more enhanced entity, its diplomatic ambition shows no sign of letting up, where it both compliments and collides with the traditional practice of diplomacy and diplomatic law. Well-known contemporary situations of persons availing of diplomatic law will be used as case studies throughout in the course, providing a practical element to the international legal framework that is in place, including the diplomatic elements of international practice. The course should be of interest to students who possess an interest in the law of diplomacy, but also those with curiosity for international relations. It will be of particular use for those who aspire to be members of diplomatic services, as well as potential officials in Government Ministries, and other public bodies. Over the length of the course during the semester, the issues covered will provide participants with a more rounded view of international diplomatic law.

Learning outcome

By the conclusion of the course at the end of the semester, students will have:

- Learnt of the historical foundations of diplomacy that has led to diplomatic law, and how to analyse the legal fundamentals, from sources, to aims, and ultimately the effects that it has;

- Acquired the necessary fundamentals for understanding how and why international diplomatic law exists;

- Identified the multifaceted legal problems concerning the rules that govern politics, diplomacy, and law between actors to whom international diplomatic law applies;

- Contextualised the broader constraints of the international legal frameworks for action from a state or international organisation in diplomacy;

- Possessed the ability to work with international legal customs in diplomacy, allowing for the correct handling of diplomatic treaties and agreements, to understand the wider legal parameters;

- Engaged with situations in which a host of diplomatic issues are at play, learning the ability to see potential situations causing unnecessary legal difficulty before such scenarios arise;

- Demonstrated the capacity to find legal solutions for complex international diplomatic challenges, when faced with a diplomatic crisis in the mix of complex the political problems;

- Formulated arguments one way or another, when asked to represent the views of one party in a particular legal dispute;

- Reflected on how international diplomatic law is changing, with increased globalisation and a wider power environment that.

All these outcomes will allow students to become more knowledgeable, skilled, and competent in international diplomatic law throughout the course. This will be established on the course by, firstly, taking part in an in-class presentation on a provisional non-graded basis done in a small group, and conclusively through rigorous individual testing during the examination stage, once the course has concluded.

International Diplomatic Law by its very nature is an applied legal field. By using theoretical concepts of international law, it is a legal science can be meaningfully applied in practice at both national and international level in nation states. As such, the teaching method encapsulates a number of different styles to ensure students get a wider view of the relevant information. Student participation and commitment makes for an appealing method of learning in a classroom. Whilst attending the lectures is important, in addition to the necessity of doing the assigned reading for each week, it is also vital to have the contribution of students, ensuring they are central to the learning process themselves.

Each week will entail a healthy blend of the core points of each topic being instructed in depth, and interactive discussion that the class-size allows for. This engagement of the students early in the learning process, on a regularly basis, will allow for a fuller understanding of International Diplomatic Law to come to the fore. Multiple group presentations will occur at throughout the semester, and by engaging students at this level, integrating them into the learning process, it inevitably means students will grasp foundational information at a much stronger, applied level of expertise. This input from students throughout the course, along with the core literature, will in turn enable better learning modalities, underpinning the learning outcomes. At the course’s conclusions, students will have garnered a broader understanding of the law of diplomacy and international relations, and how diplomacy is
applied in practice, both its everyday usage and its long-term impact.

To be published into the course syllabus on Absalon

International Diplomatic Law is a course that should ideally be undertaken by those with some knowledge of public international law. Whilst it is not a prerequisite to have undertaken a basic international law course at Bachelor level, doing so will vastly help and improve students in their ability to fully grasp the concepts of diplomatic law. Command of the English language in both written and spoken forms is essential, as in standard, in line with other courses taught at the Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen.

ECTS
15 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination, 3 days
Assigned individual written assignment, 3 days
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Seminar
  • 48
  • Preparation
  • 364,5
  • English
  • 412,5