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Last update 22-08-2017
HU Credits: 4

Degree/Cycle: 1st degree (Bachelor)

Responsible Department: law

Semester: 2nd Semester

Teaching Languages: English

Campus: Mt. Scopus

Course/Module Coordinator: Dr. Shai Dothan

Coordinator Email:

Coordinator Office Hours: Coordinated individually

Teaching Staff:
Prof Yuval Shany

Course/Module description:
This course will present the cutting edge of the theory on International Courts. It will acquaint the students with some of the primary international courts, address general questions regarding their activity as institutions and will study their interactions in the global arena.

Course/Module aims:
The purpose of the course is to analyze the actions of international courts with a special emphasis on theoretical writing. The students will acquire academic skills such as analyzing legal writing, presentation, commenting on legal texts and writing original legal research.

Learning outcomes - On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. to describe the main actions of international courts
2. to analyze the legal and interdisciplinary writing on international courts.
3. to develop skills of analyzing legal and interdisciplinary texts.
4. to improve presentation skills.
5. to enhance workshop commenting skills.
6. to acquire writing skills for original legal research.

Attendance requirements(%):

Teaching arrangement and method of instruction: The first part of the course (first semester) is based on lectures in English to the class. Students must read texts in English, mostly theoretical, before each class.
The second part of the course includes presentation of students in a workshop setting. The student presenter will distribute legal materials and a research proposal to the class, which will read and comment critically on the proposal.
At the end of the course the students will write a seminar paper based on original legal research.

Course/Module Content:
The first semester of this seminar will be dedicated to lectures by the lecturer on the topics discussed below and the second semester will be dedicated to presentations by the students on their topics of research that will revolve around the study of international courts. The class will comment on the presentations by the students in the format of a workshop.

The first part of the first semester will present several important international courts: the International Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights, The European Court of Justice and the international criminal courts. The purpose of these lessons is not to thoroughly discuss the judgments of these courts. Instead, they will attempt to acquaint the students with the way international courts act as institutions. The second part of the semester will present a theoretical analysis of several issues relating to international courts including: the formation of effective international courts, the development of the doctrine of treaty interpretation by international courts, the reasons states create international courts, the institutional constraints on international courts and the question whether independence weakens international courts or strengthens them. The last lessons in the semester will present international courts as players in the global arena and discuss the ways international courts compete with each other and deal with the increasing intervention of national courts in issues of international law. These lessons will also discuss the doctrines used by international courts to face these challenges. Finally, the goals of international courts and ways to measure their effectiveness will be discussed.

The order of the classes:
1 - Introduction to the Course and to the Study of International Courts
2 The Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ)
3 The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)
4 - The European Court of Justice (ECJ)
5 International Criminal Adjudication
6 How to Form Effective International Courts
7 The Interpretation of Treaties by International Courts
8 - Why States Create International Courts?
9 The Constraints on International Courts
10 Does Independence Make International Courts Effective?
11 - The Proliferation of International Courts and the Competition between them
12 The Interaction between National and International Courts
13 The Margin of Appreciation in International Courts
14 The Goals of International Courts

Required Reading:
Tom Ginsburg & Richard H. McAdams, Adjudication in Anarchy: an Expressive Theory of International Dispute Resolution, 45 WM & MARY L. REV. 1229 (2004). pp. 1243-1251, 1262-1276.
Shai Dothan, Judicial Tactics in the European Court of Human Rights, 12 CHI. J. INT'L. L. 115-142 (2011). (available at ssrn:;1898818 ).
William A Schabas, Prosecutorial Discretion v. Judicial Activism at the International Criminal Court, 6 J. INT'L CRIM. JUST. 731 (2008). pp. 731-753.
Laurence R. Helfer & Anne-Marie Slaughter, Toward a Theory of Effective Supranational Adjudication, 107 YALE L.J. 273 (1997). pp. 273-290
Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (1969) Arts. 31-33
H. Lauterpacht, Restrictive Interpretation and the Principle of Effectiveness in the Interpretation of Treaties 26 BRIT. Y. B. INTL LAW 48 (1949). pp. 61-75, 82-85.
Andrew Moravcsik, The Origins of Human Rights Regimes: Democratic Delegation in Postwar Europe, 54 INT'L ORG. 217 (2000). pp. 217-236.
Tom Ginsburg, Bounded Discretion in International Judicial Lawmaking, 45 VA J. INTL L. 631 (2005). pp. 656-673.
Eric A. Posner & John C. Yoo, Judicial Independence in International Tribunals, 93 CAL. L. REV. 1 (2005). pp. 1-8; 26-29; 51-54.
Laurence R. Helfer & Anne-Marie Slaughter, Why States Create International Tribunals: A Response to Professors Posner and Yoo, 93 CAL. L. REV. 899 (2005). pp. 899-905; 931-936.
Eyal Benvenisti & George W. Downs, The Empires New Clothes: Political Economy and the Fragmentation of International Law, 60 STAN. L. REV 595 (2007). pp. 595-619.
Eyal Benvenisti & George W. Downs, National Courts, Domestic Democracy, and the Evolution of International Law, 20 EUR. J. INT'L L. 59-72 (2009).
Eyal Benvenisti, Margin of Appreciation, Consensus and Universal Standards, 31 NYU J. INT'L L. POL. 843-854 (1999).
Yuval Shany, Assessing the Effectiveness of International Courts: A Goal-Based Approach, 106 AMER. J. INT'L. L. 225 (2012). pp. 225-233; 240-248.

Additional Reading Material:

Course/Module evaluation:
End of year written/oral examination 0 %
Presentation 10 %
Participation in Tutorials 10 %
Project work 80 %
Assignments 0 %
Reports 0 %
Research project 0 %
Quizzes 0 %
Other 0 %

Additional information:
Students needing academic accommodations based on a disability should contact the Center for Diagnosis and Support of Students with Learning Disabilities, or the Office for Students with Disabilities, as early as possible, to discuss and coordinate accommodations, based on relevant documentation.
For further information, please visit the site of the Dean of Students Office.