Norms and Contestation in Regional and Global Security

Course content

This is an interdisciplinary course at the intersection of law and international relations. The course introduces students to theories, concepts and methods in norms research in regional and global security. It provides them with cutting-edge knowledge on major issues and sub-fields in norm research in the security domain, including the relationship between norms and contestation. The course places particular emphasis on the entanglements between norms and ontological security and the role of the international organization, understood as international institutions and transnational processes on the one side and as source of authority on the other side, in norm maintenance. Moreover, the course focuses on norm violations and its aftermath, as we observe that international norms are being increasingly contested, politicized and securitized. During the course, the students will familiarize with contestation theories and conceptual notions related to norm violation, the use of force, arbitration, punitive practices and ontological security. It will also provide students with case studies and practical examples related to international military operations, the war in Ukraine and reparations in the context of reconciliation and transitional justice. The course is divided into five thematic clusters: 1) Norms and International Cooperation; 2) Contestation; 3) Authority and Settlements after Norm Violations; 4) Norms and International Organisations and 5) Re-Imagining the International.


Full-degree students enrolled at the Department of Political Science, UCPH

  • MSc in Political Science
  • MSc in Social Science


Full-degree students enrolled at the Faculty of Social Science, UCPH 

  • Master Programme in Social Data Science
  • Master programme in Global Development


The course is open to:

  • Credit students from Danish Universities
  • Open University students
  • Exchange students
Learning outcome


  • Gain analytical knowledge of core ideas, concepts and theories about norms and contestation in regional and global security context
  • Identify and critically discuss the issues, problems and challenges facing organizations, for example the issue of authority in a changing political and normative context


  • Develop ability to provide measures for assessing norm violations as well as diplomatic and institutional tools for conflict settlements in regional and global security
  • Evaluate different approaches to punitive actions, international intervention, arbitration, and settlement


  • Conduct comprehensive legal analysis and diagnose the problems and potential solutions related to norm violations and the use of force
  • Communicate issues related to contestation, conflict and international law
  • Think about how the international order can be re-imagined to be more stable, in a changing political and normative context

This course will juxtapose lecture sessions with practical exercise, in which the students will practically apply the theories, concepts and notions learned. By applying the concept of ‘learning by doing’, through individual, au-pair and group exercises, students will be challenged with real-life problems and scenarios on norm violations, contestation or aggression, to which they will have to provide concrete plans and solutions for arbitration, settlement and transitional justice.
Teaching form: Lectures with power point; class discussions; individual/ /group exercises; simulations; student presentations; guest lecture; for one session, a movie will be screened. Short energizing exercises will be implemented throughout the sessions.
For most part, the sessions will have the following structure: short intro with student examples of current international developments; one section on background details to ensure that everyone is one the same page; one section on theoretical arguments/debates; main interactive session, usually a group exercise. There will be one or two exercises per session – i.e. a main interactive exercise and another smaller exercise/class discussion


Preliminary reading list for the entire course. A revised and complete list will be provided closer to the start of the course.

1.Norms and International Cooperation

Introduction. Whose Norms Matter

Lantis, J., & Wunderlich, C. (2018). Resiliency dynamics of norm clusters: Norm contestation and international cooperation. Review of International Studies, 44(3), 570-593. doi:10.1017/S0260210517000626 (24 pages)

Acharya, A. (2004). How Ideas Spread: Whose Norms Matter? Norm Localization and Institutional Change in Asian Regionalism. International Organization, 58(2), 239-275.  doi:10.1017/S0020818304582024 (37 pages)

Panke, D., & Petersohn, U. (2012). Why international norms disappear sometimes. European Journal of International Relations, 18(4), 719–742. (24 pages)

Norms and the UN System

Gray, C. (2018). Security Council Authorization for member States. In: International Law and the Use of Force. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 327-366. (40 pages)

White, N. (2021). The Security Council, Peace-Making and Peace Settlement: Between Executive and Pragmatic. In M. Weller, M. Retter, & A. Varga (Eds.), International Law and Peace Settlements. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 237-263. (27 pages)

Hurd, I. (2008). Myths of Membership: The Politics of Legitimation in UN Security Council Reform. Global Governance, 14(2), 199–217. (19 pages)

Norms and Ontological Security

Steele, B. (2008). Ontological Security in International Relations. Self-Identity and the IR State. New York: Routledge, Chapter 3 “The Possibilities of Self”, pp. 49-75. (27 pages)

Gustafsson, K., & Krickel-Choi, N. C. (2020). Returning to the roots of ontological security: insights from the existentialist anxiety literature. European Journal of International Relations, 26(3), 875–895. (21 pages)

Mitzen, J. (2006). Ontological Security in World Politics: State Identity and the Security Dilemma. European Journal of International Relations, 12(3), 341–370. (40 pages)

Browning, C. S. & Joenniemi. P. (2017). Ontological security, self-articulation and the securitization of identity. Cooperation and Conflict, 52(1), pp. 31-47. (18 pages)

2.Contestation and Norm Violations

Theories of Contestation

Bueger, C. (2017). Practices, Norms, and the Theory of Contestation. Polity. 49(1), 126-131. (6 pages)

Zürn, M. (2018). Contested Global Governance. Global Policy. 9(1), 138-145. (8 pages)

Wiener, A. (2017). A Theory of Contestation—A Concise Summary of Its Argument and Concepts. Polity. 49(1), 109-125. (15 pages)

Steele, B. (2017). Broadening the Contestation of Norms in International Relations. Polity. 49(1), 132-138. (7 pages)

Niemann, H., & Schillinger, H. (2017). Contestation ‘all the way down’? The grammar of contestation in norm research. Review of International Studies, 43(1), 29-49. doi:10.1017/S0260210516000188 (21 pages)

Norms Violations

Shannon, V. P. (2000). Norms Are What States Make of Them: The Political Psychology of Norm Violation. International Studies Quarterly, 44(2), 293–316. (24 pages)

Birkenkötter, H. (2017). Irresolvable Norm Conflicts in International Law: The Concept of a Legal Dilemma. European Journal of International Law, 28(4), 1423–1428,    (6 pages)

Rosyidin, M. (2020). Reconciling State’s Sovereignty with Global Norms: Indonesia’s Quiet Diplomacy in Myanmar and the Feasibility of the Implementation of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) in Southeast Asia. Global Responsibility to Protect, 12(1), 11-36. doi: (26 pages)


Fremuth, M.L. (2022). The Crime of Aggression and the Prohibition of the Use of Force—Reflections on the Relationship between the Rome Statute and General Public International Law. In: Bock, S., Conze, E. (eds) Rethinking the Crime of Aggression. T.M.C. Asser Press, The Hague, pp. 721-205. (85 pages)

Akande, D. (2003). The Jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court over Nationals of Non-Parties: Legal Basis and Limits. Journal of International Criminal Justice, 1(3), pp. 618–650. (33 pages)

Scharf, M. P. (2001). The ICC’s Jurisdiction over the Nationals of Non-Party States: A Critique of the U.S. Position. Law and Contemporary Problems, 64(1), 67–117. (51 pages)

3.Authority, Punishment and Settlements

Punitive Practices and Norm Breakers

Schembera, K. (2021). Understanding ASEAN’s approach to sanctions against norm breakers. International Political Science Review, 42(4), 531–545. (15 pages)

Wagner, W., & Werner, W. (2018). War and punitivity under anarchy. European Journal of International Security, 3(3), 310-325. doi:10.1017/eis.2018.8 (16 pages)

Heller, K. J. (2022). Options for Prosecuting Russian Aggression Against Ukraine: A Critical Analysis. Journal of Genocide Research. DOI: 10.1080/14623528.2022.2095094 (25 pages)

International Arbitration

Hurd, I. (1999). Legitimacy and Authority in International Politics. International Organization, 53(2), 379–408. (30 pages)

Weller, M. (2021). Conclusion: Developments in Peace Settlement Practice and International Law. In M. Weller, M. Retter, & A. Varga (Eds.), International Law and Peace Settlements (pp. 685-704). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781108627856.030 (20 pages)

Creutz, K. (2020). Conclusions. In: State Responsibility in the International Legal Order: A Critical Appraisal. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. pp. 302-310. (9 pages)

Van Den Herik, L. (2015). Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Croatia v. Serbia) (I.C.J.). International Legal Materials, 54(5), 787-889. doi:10.5305/intelegamate.54.5.0787 (103 pages)

Reparations and Transitional Justice

Boelaert-Suominen, S. (2000). The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the Kosovo conflict. International Review of the Red Cross, 82(837), 217-252. (36 pages) doi:10.1017/S1560775500075490

Labuda, Patryk I. 2020. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and Post-Genocide Justice 25 Years On, European Journal of International Law, 31(3), 1113–1131. (19 pages)

Movie on reparations and transitional justice.

4.Norms and International Organisations

The use of force

Ostermann, F., & Wagner, W. (2023). Introducing the parliamentary deployment votes database. Journal of Peace Research, 0(0). (14 pages)

Wagner, W., Herranz-Surrallés, A., Kaarbo, J., & Ostermann, F. (2018). Party politics at the water’s edge: Contestation of military operations in Europe. European Political Science Review, 10(4), 537-563. doi:10.1017/S1755773918000097 (27 pages)

Castel, J. (2004). The Legality and Legitimacy of Unilateral Armed Intervention in an Age of Terror, Neo-Imperialism, and Massive Violations of Human Rights: Is International Law Evolving in the Right Direction. Canadian Yearbook of International Law, 42, 3-34. (32 pages)


Norms Enforcement and Regional Peacekeeping

Gray, C. (2018). Regional Peacekeeping and enforcement action. In: International Law and the Use of Force. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 370-425. (56 pages)

Coleman, K. (2007). Peace enforcement through a military alliance: The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and Operation Allied Force in Kosovo. In International Organisations and Peace Enforcement: The Politics of International Legitimacy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 194-239. (44 pages)

Strohmeyer, H. (2001). Collapse and Reconstruction of a Judicial System: The United Nations Missions in Kosovo and East Timor. The American Journal of International Law, 95(1), 46–63. (17pages)

5.Re-Imagining the International

Memory, Ethics and Norms

Rumelili, B. (2018). Breaking with Europe’s pasts: memory, reconciliation, and ontological (In)security. European Security, 27(3), 280-295, DOI: 10.1080/09662839.2018.1497979 (16 pages)

Hoover, J. (2012). Reconstructing responsibility and moral agency in world politics. International Theory, 4(2), 233-268. doi:10.1017/S1752971912000085 (36 pages)

Baciu, C. (2023). Sinn von Sein. Foreign Policy, Memory and Changing Imaginaries and Practices of Neutrality in the Second Republic. Österreichische Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, 51(4), 26-32. (7 pages)

Toni Erskine (2012). Whose progress, which morals? Constructivism, normative IR theory and the limits and possibilities of studying ethics in world politics. International Theory, 4, 449-468 doi:10.1017/S1752971912000152 (19 pages)


Basic knowledge of international law, institutions and theories of international relations will be helpful, though not compulsory. Students with a background in legal studies might find this course appealing, however, the course is open to all students in political science and SRM at KU. Having taken the core courses, especially the one in Security Studies, might be beneficial.

Students lacking a background in legal studies who would like to familiarize with international law research and for those who would like to have a companion guide throughout the course can consult one of the two handbooks:
• Geiß, Robin, and Nils Melzer (eds).(2021). The Oxford Handbook of the International Law of Global Security, Oxford Handbooks.
• Weller, Marc (2015). The Oxford Handbook of the Use of Force in International Law, Oxford Academic.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination
Type of assessment details
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship

- In the semester where the course takes place: Free written assignment

- In subsequent semesters: Free written assignment

Criteria for exam assessment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • English
  • 28


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 semester

Study Board for Security Risk Management
Contracting department
  • Department of Political Science
  • Social Data Science
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinator
  • Cornelia Baciu   (14-65717470676e6b63306463656b77426b6875306d7730666d)
Saved on the 08-06-2023

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