International Law

International Law

A broad and integrated subject:

International Law is an extensive course. It is never possible to cover all ideas of international law in a single course. In fact, many courses have been designed on individual topics in international law. The present course will give brief overview of basic topics of international law. Different issues of international law sometimes involve the study of different other laws including domestic legal and constitutional provisions.


This course focuses on public international law to introduce students to basic ideas, issues and practices of international law. The selection of current issues may incorporate Bangladeshi, comparative and international aspects, or a mixture thereof, where relevant. At the conclusion of this course, students who have attended lectures, read the course materials and done the assignments properly should have

1)      a basic appreciation of the practice of law, and be prepared to interpret and evaluate critically international events and issues from legal perspective.

2)      They should understand the theoretical framework of international law and its relationship with domestic law, in particular, the place of international law in the legal system of Bangladesh and how Bangladeshi legal system interprets and applies international law. They should appreciate the increasing impact of international law on Bangladeshi domestic law and how national laws generally are being `globalised’;

3)      understand how international law is becoming more concerned with individuals rather than nation states and so can provide solutions to domestic legal problems.

4)      demonstrate a capacity to conduct research on a specific aspect of public international law.

International law is the set of rules generally regarded and accepted as binding in relations between states and between nations.It serves as a framework for the practice of stable and organized international relations.International law differs from state-based legal systems in that it is primarily applicable to countries rather than to private citizens. National law may become international law when treaties delegate national jurisdiction tosupranational tribunals such as the European Court of Human Rights or the International Criminal Court. Treaties such as the Geneva Conventions may require national law to conform.

International law is consent-based governance. This means that a state member of the international community is not obliged to abide by international law unless it has expressly consented to a particular course of conduct.[4] This is an issue of state sovereignty. However, other aspects of international law are not consent-based but still are obligatory upon state and non-state actors such as customary international law and peremptory norms (jus cogens).

The term “international law” can refer to three distinct legal disciplines:

  • Public international law, which governs the relationship between states and international entities. It includes these legal fields: treaty law, law of sea,international criminal law, the laws of war or international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
  • Private international law, or conflict of laws, which addresses the questions of hich jurisdiction may hear a case, and  the law concerning which jurisdiction applies to the issues in the case.
  • Supranational law or the law of supranational organizations, which concerns regional agreements where the laws of nation states may be held inapplicable when conflicting with a supranational legal system when that nation has a treaty obligation to a supranational collective.


Please complete the assigned readings prior to class and then attend the classes. Remember:

  • The classes will include lectures and case analysis.
  • To generate discussion in the classes the Socratic Method may be utilized.
  • Discussion and constructive questions are welcome during class hour.
  • The assigned readings will be helpful to prepare for class. Students must find and read the complete court decisions or secondary materials to assist in their understanding of the principles and cases.
  • Students should read the cases themselves to be able to gain a thorough understanding and appreciation of judicial reasoning in terms of international law in particular.
  • Commercially prepared notes may be a useful supplementary study tool but they should not be used as a substitute for attending class or completing the readings. These may not reflect recent changes in course material and may contain errors or inaccuracies.
  • Students must be able to identify the legal principles and develop the skill of understanding how those principles might apply in related situations. It will not be wise to  synthesize all of the materials at the end of the academic year, rather the students should try to “stand back” and objectively analyse the case law and legal principles as they are presented.
  • The recommended Cases are designed to give students an opportunity to consider and examine the development and application of international law principles in the context of the courts. Sometimes these Cases will serve as the basis for a focussed class discussion on particular international law issues.


You should develop the following skills:

Understanding laws: you should develop the ability to interpret the international legal provisions.

Applying law: you should be able to apply the law to a given issue.

 Understanding case law: you should develop the skill to understand cases, analyse the judgments and to find out the issue in a case and to examine how the issue has been resolved by the court.

 Applying cases: you should be able to apply the case law to a given issue.



Participation in class


Tutorial examination (may be open book)

1st Term examination

2nd Term Examination

Final Exam

Total 100%

Question pattern

The Examinations will include one or more of the following types of questions:

  • Short Answer

Certain short, specific and technical questions are designed to test knowledge of facts and concepts that will require students to define and explain particular international law principles.

  • Essay
    Certain essay type questions will be there to test the ability to analyze and apply material covered in the course requiring students to discuss or evaluate in detail principles of international law. It will require you to show an in depth knowledge of the law and a critical approach to it.
  • Hypothetical Fact Scenario Based Problem

Problem questions will require you to apply the laws to a given factual situation. A hypothetical fact scenario will be given requiring students to identify the issues, to apply legal principles, to discuss any ambiguities relating to the application of legal principles to the facts, and to reach to likely resolutions to the legal issues raised. You have to spot the issues properly to cope with problem questions successfully, and advise on them accurately and succinctly, referring always to the laws upon which you rely for your resolution. If the law seems to be uncertain, then you must explain why, and then choose what you believe to be the decision most likely to be made by the court, giving reasons thereby.

  • MCQ

Sometimes, a class test or a tutorial exercise may include even MCQ questions.

Important:It is worth mentioning here that ‘spotting’ questions may be highly dangerous and frustrating for you since there is no guarantee that there will be a question on any particular topic and it must not be assumed by you, suppose, that topic A is so important that the examiners are bound to set a question on it. Sometimes, even questions may also easily involve more than one topic. Another important point to note is that you must not rely on the previous examination papers since the examiners may change the style and format of the examination papers from year to year.

Advocacy component

An advocacy component will be included in the course. Each tutorial group has to draft a petition, possible arguments and judgment in a fictitious case. The object is to expose students to the practical side of the practice of law. This component seeks to assist in developing precision of language and thought; skills that are useful for any career that students may pursue.


The assignment is an individual task which is to be prepared by each individual student taking prior approval of the proposal from the course teacher. One may start working on the assignment at any convenient time during the course year but in any case that is to be submitted no later than after one week of the last lecture.

Every student must be very careful about ‘plagiarism’ in writing the assignment. A student must not use ideas that are not his own but have been borrowed from someone else, without acknowledgment. Every student must clearly distinguish between his ideas and those of other authors. Place quotation marks in appropriate places and acknowledge ideas of another writer by providing reference details.


Comprehensive essential and further reading lists follow.

Essential reading

  • International Law: Shaw
  • International Law: Martin Dixon
  • International Law: Cases and Materials: D J Harris

Further reading


You should consult also journals to improve your understanding of the law and to be aware of recent developments in the law. e.g.,

  • Oxford Journal of International Law
  • Harvard Journal of International Law
  • Michigan Journal of International Law
  • Journal of Comparative and International Law, etc.

Useful Websites
United Nations:
International Court of Justice:
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia:
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda:
International Criminal Court:
International Law Commission:
International Committee of the Red Cross:
World Trade Organisation:
Max Planck Institute of International and Comparative Law Library:
United Nations Office of the High Commission for Human Rights:

International Law