International Politics Seminar: International Law and the Use of Force (W3961)
This seminar will cover various issues, debates, and concepts in international law,
particularly as it applies regulating the use of force and political violence by states.
Recognizing that most of the seminar participants do not have a background in international
law, the seminar will begin by covering some of its basic concepts including its underlying
philosophy, sources, and applications, as well as how and why states comply with its
In doing so, we will examine the various ways that political scientists, law
scholars and political leaders understand the concept international “rules” and “laws” in
We will then spend the bulk of the semester examining the various
aspects of international law regarding armed conflict, international aggression, military
intervention, arms control, terrorism, the use of mercenaries, torture, and military occupation.
Since this is a seminar, we will rely heavily on the readings and class discussions.
students are expected to complete the required readings prior to class and to participate in
In addition to completing the reading assignments and participating in class
discussions, students will write a 25-30 page research paper on an issue drawn from the
syllabus and class discussions.
The paper should incorporate at least some of the theories,
concepts and debates covered in the course, but the student may choose the specific topic.
All students must submit a one-paragraph description of their paper topic to the professor no
later than November 10.
The paper is due on December 15 at 11:00am in my mailbox in
the Political Science office (7
floor of the IAB)
We will discuss the papers in class.
Each student will choose one week and make a short presentation outlining the main
questions and issues raised in the readings for that week. These presentations will lay the
foundation for the discussion.
Presenters should avoid simply summarizing the reading
(you can assume that everyone has read them) and instead offer a critical
assessment of the various works and a conceptual overview of the week’s topic, in addition
to the questions for discussion. The instructor’s role will be to facilitate the discussion,