Public International Law- Main Topics of Study

Nature and Purpose of International Law


  • Custom
  • Treaties
  • General principles
  • Judicial decisions
  • Writing of jurists
  • General assembly resolutions


  • Sovereignty
  • Modes of acquisition
  • Recognition
  • Other areas

Jurisdiction and Immunity

  • Making and enforcing laws
  • Grounds of jurisdiction
  • Extradition and asylum
  • Immunity

State Responsibility

  • Criminal and civil responsibility
  • Basis of international liability
  • Risk and fault theories
  • Attributability of the state
  • Compensation and remedies
  • Defences
  • Treatment of aliens
  • Companies and the expropriation of property

International Environmental Law

  • State responsibility
  • Atmospheric protection
  • The problem of development
  • Duty of co-operation
  • International conservation law

Human Rights

  • Libertie, egalite and fraternite
  • Implementation of human rights
  • Treaties and custom as sources
  • Human rights under UN
  • International covenants
  • Other instruments

The Law of the Sea

  • The territorial sea
  • Right of innocent passage
  • The contiguous zone
  • The exclusive economic zone
  • The high seas
  • The continental shelf
  • The deep sea bed

The Use of Force

  • Jus ad bellum
  • The law against war
  • Prohibition on the use of force
  • Exceptions to articles 2(4)
  • The UN security council
  • The general assembly
  • The secretary general
  • Regional organisations


re The Asylum Case (1950) KJ
re North Sea Continental Shelf Cases (1969) ICJ
re Texaco Case (1978) ILM
Maclaine Watson v Department of Trade (1989)
Salimoff v Standard Oil Co (1933)
re Island of Palmas Case (1928)

Other Sources

United Nations Charter 1948
Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948
Vienna Conventions 1961 & 1968
Law of the Sea Convention 1982
Statute of the International Court of Justice
Rio Declaration 1992
North Atlantic Treaty 1949
Hague Conventions
UN General Assembly Resolutions
European Convention on Human Rights – Antarctic Treaty 1959

Recommended Reading

Reading List

Main Text:
International Law – S Wheatley (Blackstone Press)