Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes

Course content

As shown in the South China Sea disputes, international disputes significantly affect international relations. Since our epoque can be characterized by international disputes, the settlement of these disputes is of central importance. In fact, the settlement of international disputes occupies the central place in public international law. Against that background, this course, that has run for some seven years at the Faculty of Law, aims to examine the various means and institutions for the peaceful settlement of international disputes between States in international law.

Specifically it will address:

(i) preliminary issues (the concept of international disputes and typology of dispute settlement means, etc),

(ii) diplomatic means (negotiation, good offices, mediation, inquiry and conciliation),

(iii) dispute settlement through the United Nations,

(iv) inter-State arbitration,

(v) the International Court of Justice and (vi) the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. This course builds on knowledge obtained particularly in the bachelor course of public international law.

As this is a MA course, the students are required to critically analyse the above issues. While there is no requirement for students to complete other MA courses, a basic knowledge of public international law will be helpful to follow the course. This course will be relevant for students who wish to work in international fields, such as diplomat, international civil servant and NGOs. The course is given in English.

Learning outcome

Knowledge: On successful completion of the course, students will be able to demonstrate a specialised academic knowledge concerning diplomatic and legal means of international dispute settlement. In particular, the students will be able to explain advantages and disadvantage of each means of international dispute settlement.

Skills: The students will be able to select and advise relevant means of international disputes. They will also be able to critically analyse key issues associated with international courts and tribunals, in particular, procedural rules of the International Court of Justice in English.

Competences: The students will be able to advice relevant means of international dispute settlement. Furthermore, the students will be able to determine whether or not an international court would have jurisdiction to deal with a particular case.

The course is a inter-active lecture. The lecture is given on the basis of the actual or hypothetical cases. In the class, the students will be required to discuss questions in the small group. Furthermore, as part of group activity, the students will be required to participate in a ‘moot negotiation’. ‘Moot negotiation’ aims to facilitate class participation of the students. In ‘moot negotiation’, students discuss hypothetical scenario (question). The students will be divided into, for instance, three groups and they present/defend its legal position as a hypothetical member of national delegation in an international conference or negotiation table.

Recommended literature:

J. Merrills, International Dispute Settlement, 6th edition (Cambridge University Press, 2017), 374 p.

 In addition, relevant cases and documents will be suggested within the scope of 375 pages in total.

Good command of English is recommendable.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, 1 day
Assigned written individual assignment, 1 day
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

In order to be given the mark 12, the student must be able to:

Present and explain the theoretical and practical problems of the course subject 
-  Identify all relevant legal issues
- Identify all relevant treaties, customary law, general principle of law, and international decisions
- Analyse relevant issues within the course subject based on various relevant and professional approaches
- Make a critical weighting of the relevant arguments and make a reasoned choice in relation to theoretical and practical solutions 
- Structure the work so that statements, arguments and conclusions flow coherently and logically
- Put into perspective the specific issues of the course subject in a way that shows that she/he has a professional breadth of view in relation to and knowledge about the course subject 
- Propose an appropriate synthesis and conclusion with respect to facts, issues, law and solutions
- Conduct a thorough and planned library research
- Demonstrate the ability to do research independently and autonomously
- Communicate and formulate her/his knowledge and arguments professionally and linguistically correct and in a way that is structured and coherent.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Seminar
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 178,25
  • English
  • 206,25