Public International Law


Our first class will be an overview session in which we will define our subject for the coming semester: public international law, including a little historical background and its current nature, definition, and sources. Here are the reading assignments that we will discuss in the first class. Please be prepared to discuss all of them to the various extents indicated below.

A. Sources of International Law. Carter, pages 1-6–read carefully, including the Questions and notes at the end.
B. Brief Post-War History of International Law. Carter, pages 10 – 21.
C. Nature/Status of International Law. Carter, pages 25-49.
D. Two judicial opinions (both attached) for general introductory discussion:
Hanley v. Roy, 485 F.3d 641 (11th Cir. 2007);
Filartiga v. Pena-Irala, 630 F.2d 876 (2nd Cir. 1980).

Read these opinions casually, for general, relaxed discussion, not to learn them in all their details or to be grilled on them. Generally, we will discuss the issue of whether and to what extent these opinions involve “public international law” as you will have seen that phrase defined in the above introductory readings.

Optional: If you care to do so, you may enjoy listening to the oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, involving issues regarding what due process rights, if any, are applicable to an American citizen who had moved to Afghanistan and was captured during the war there and subsequently sent to Guantanamo and detained there. The arguments are at the following link:

If you listen, be sure to listen all the way to the end (i.e., through the rebuttal arguments), both for exposure to a discussion of legal principles involved in an important area of U.S. international relations, and to hear appellate oral arguments done at a very high level.