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Expectations of Students: Discussion on International Law

Group Sessions and Class Discussions


It is expected that you will attend all group sessions. Most sessions are student led, in which the class begins with presentations by students, which will form the basis for group discussion of the various issues raised. Presentations will be allocated in advance. All students are expected to read around the topic prior to the class and be prepared to contribute to class discussions.


- How does Article 2 (4) improve upon the Covenant of the League of Nations and the Pact of Paris?
- To what extent does Article 2 (4) remain a norm of international law?
- Is a broad or restrictive interpretation of the scope of prohibition contained in Article 2 (4) appropriate?
- What is the principle of ‘non-intervention’ and how does it regulate intervention in civil wars?
- With reference to examples, explain the extent to which states have intervened in civil wars and the legality of such interventions.

1. Explain who enjoys a right of self-defence and again whom it can be exercised.
2. Assess the modern day relevance of the customary law criteria for the right of self-defence set out in the Caroline incident.
3. Does state practice support a right of anticipatory or pre-emptive self-defence?


- What constitutes an ‘armed attack’?
- What is the meaning of “necessity, immediacy, and proportionality” as requirements of actions taken in self-defence?
- Is there a right of self-defence against non-state actors?
- Does customary international law permit a right of anticipatory self-defence?
- To what extent is the UN Charter restriction on self-defence outdated in light of subsequent developments?
- What are the implications of the US National Security Strategy 2002 on the law of self-defence?
- How have states responded to actions that appear to be anticipatory or pre-emptive in nature?

Tsagourias, ‘The shifting laws on the use of force and the trivialization of the UN collective security system: the
need to reconstitute it’, Netherlands Yearbook of International Law, 2004, pp.55-87
Wilson, ‘The legal, military and political consequences of the coalition of the willing approach to taking UN
military enforcement action’, Journal of Conflict & Security Law, 2007, v.12, n.2, pp.295-330


1. Assess the legal difficulties which the ‘authorisation model’ for UN military enforcement action has given rise to.

2. To what extent has ‘bypassing’ of the Security Council been a problem, with reference to situations such as the NATO bombing of the FRY in response to events in Kosovo, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq?


1. What are the key features of the ‘authorisation model’ and how does it differ from the original Charter scheme for military enforcement action?
2. How successfully has the Security Council exerted control over military actions which it has authorised?
3. What factors have contributed to successful or unsuccessful military operations authorised by the Council?
4. Why do states sometimes bypass the Security Council? Is this a major problem?
5. To what extent is the possibility of a UN standing force a realistic proposition?


1. Does international law recognise a right of humanitarian intervention?
2. Should international law recognise a right of humanitarian intervention?
3. What is the Responsibility to Protect and what are its core tenets? Is it of any legal force?
4. Explain the relationship between the Responsibility to Protect and the doctrine of humanitarian intervention.


Liverpool John Moores University Page 14
- How would you define ‘humanitarian intervention’?
- How should ‘humanitarian intervention’ be distinguished from UN military enforcement action and self-defence?
- Is there much support in state practice for a right of humanitarian intervention (consider Bangladesh, Uganada, Cambodia, Kurdish Crisis, and Kosovo especially)?
- Is there a need for a right of humanitarian intervention?
- What criteria might govern a right of humanitarian intervention?
- What are the origins of the Responsibility to Protect?
- Does the Responsibility to Protect doctrine add anything to the international law of the use of force?
- How has the doctrine informed state practice in relation to the use of force?

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