The Modern Actors of International Law - LAW00063M

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  • Department: The York Law School
  • Module co-ordinator: Information currently unavailable
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2019-20

Module summary

The Modern Actors of International Law exposes you to a cutting-edge topic in international legal research and practice: non-state actors and their role, status, rights and obligations under international law. The module discusses international law theories to understand whether and how non-state actors are accommodated within a discipline traditionally aiming to regulate the relations between states. Next, it explores international human rights law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law to unearth the legal framework of international organizations, armed groups and corporations as well as avenues to hold them accountable for violations.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2019-20

Module aims

Non-state actors are omnipresent on the international stage influencing and participating in international legal processes including in international law-making, adjudication and law-enforcement. The module takes stock of this modern international context and aims to examine the status and accountability framework of non-state actors in international law, a body of law traditionally charged with regulating the relations between states. We will explore whether the rights of non-state actors and their power to influence international law processes come with international obligations and whether such obligations can be enforced at international and/or domestic levels. The module discusses in depth three case studies of considerable contemporary relevance: international organizations, non-state armed groups and corporations and their accountability under international human rights law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law.

Modern Actors of International Law will enable you to appreciate the changing reality of international law and evaluate the benefits and complex challenges brought about by the participation of non-state actors in international legal processes. It will foster your analytical skills, critical thinking and creative problem-solving abilities.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the course, you should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a deep understanding of fundamental concepts of international law;
  • Distinguish among the international law governing international human rights law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law;
  • Critically engage with theories of acquisition of rights and obligations under international law;
  • Explain and critically evaluate the international legal framework regulating the actions of international organizations, armed groups and corporations;
  • Explore avenues for holding international organizations, armed groups and corporations accountable in international and domestic forums;
  • Critically assess the participation of selected non-state actors in international legal processes.

Module content

Lectures and seminars will include the following topics:

  • Refresher on the fundamentals of international law - What are the sources of international law? What is the relation between the various branches of international law? What is the relation between international law and domestic jurisdictions?
  • Types and roles of non-states actors under international law - How are non-state actors defined? What types of non-state actors exist? What roles do they play in international law?
  • Theories of acquisition of rights and obligations under international law.
  • The legal framework of international organizations, non-state armed groups and corporations, respectively, and avenues to hold them accountable for international law violations.

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
3500 Word Essay
N/A 70
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
15 Minute Presentation
N/A 30

Special assessment rules

None

Additional assessment information

Additional information concerning presentations:

  • You will be asked to prepare an individual presentation on the role of a specific non-state actors.
  • The presentations will be scheduled during the seminars of weeks 7-9.

In this module, formative assessment will be provided:

  • In lectures and seminars through 'flipping the classroom' exercises and comments by the lecturer and by fellow students.
  • In meetings with the lecturer and through feedback on the presentation.

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
3500 Word Essay
N/A 70
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
15 Minute Presentation
N/A 30

Module feedback

  • Lectures will entail Q&A sessions and students will receive feedback on their answers from fellow students and the lecturer. Seminars will entail ‘flipping the classroom’ exercises and feedback will be provided by the lecturer.
  • Feedback on the presentation will be provided in writing one week after the presentation.
  • Feedback on the essay will be provided in writing within three weeks after the submission date.

Indicative reading

  • Jean d’Aspremont (ed), Participants in the International Legal System: Multiple Perspectives on Non-State Actors in International Law (Routledge 2011).
  • Andrew Clapham, Human Rights Obligations of Non-State Actors (OUP 2006)
  • Noemi Gal-Or, Cedric Ryngaert, Math Noortmann (eds), Responsibilities of the Non-state Actor in Armed Conflict and the Market Place: Theoretical Considerations and Empirical Findings (Brill 2015).

It is strongly recommended that you read an introductory text on international law. For example, Jan Klabbers, International Law (2nd ed, CUP 2017).



The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.