JJUA55086U International Law and the Individual (NOTE! - This course has ben cancelled in E15)

Volume 2015/2016

International law has traditionally been defined as the body of law governing relations between states. Since the end of World War II, however, the regulation of the conduct of individuals has increased significantly across the board of international legal disciplines; ranging from international investment law to international criminal law. Not only are individuals frequent actors in international law both as subjects of obligations and subjects of rights. They also have the capacity to bring independent claims before international courts and, under certain circumstances, individuals can be said to participate in the creation and development of international law. Today, it is thus common ground in both legal theory and practice that individuals play an important role on the international stage. But, both scholars and practitioners struggle to determine the consequences of this development for the international legal system as such as well as for its relationship with domestic legal systems.

The overall aim of the course is to:

• Provide students with a working knowledge of the role of the individual in the international legal system

• Develop students’ understanding of a number of specialized fields of international law involving the interests of individuals

• Develop students’ awareness of the differences between international law and domestic law and the importance of these differences from the perspective of the individual

To achieve this aim, the following issues will be addressed in the readings and class discussions:

1. The Structure of the International Legal System

2. The Concept of International Legal Personality in International Legal Theory

3. The Relationship between International Law and Domestic Law

4. The Capacity of Individuals to Bring Cases before International Courts

5. The Role of the Individual in International Human Rights Law

6. The Role of the Individual in International Humanitarian Law

7. The Role of the Individual in International Criminal Law

8. The Role of the Individual in International Investment Law

9. The Role the Individual in European Union Law

Learning Outcome

The course provides the students with knowledge of:

- The theoretical debate on the role of individuals in the international legal system

- The role of individuals in general international law as a matter of positive norms

- The role of individuals in a variety of specialized disciplines of international law, including

- International Human Rights Law, International Humanitarian Law, International Criminal Law and International Investment Law

- The differences between international law and domestic law pertaining specifically to the rights, duties and capacities of individuals

On the basis thereof the course provides the students with the following skills:

- The ability to interpret and apply international legal norms pertaining to individuals in order to ascertain their material rights and


- The ability to identify relevant factors concerning the procedural capacities of individuals, e.g. their competence to bring a claim before an international court


Based on those skills the course provides the students with the following competences:

- The ability to reflect upon both the benefits and the problems of the increasing regulation of individuals in certain specialized fields of international law

- The ability to reflect upon the overall consequences of transferring the regulation of individuals from the domestic to the international level

Jean D’Aspremont, ‘International Law-Making by Non-State Actors: Changing the Model or Putting the Phenomenon into Perspective?’ in Math

Noortman and Cedric Ryngaert, Non-State Actor Dynamics in International Law, Ashgate, 2010, pp. 171-194 (23 pages)

Astrid Kjeldgaard-Pedersen, The International Legal Personality of Individuals (forthcoming), (350 pages)

Sandesh Sivakumaran, ‘Binding Armed Opposition Groups’, International and Comparative Law Quarterly, Vol. 55, 2006, pp. 369-394 (25 pages)

Ole Spiermann, ‘Twentieth Century Internationalism in Law’, European Journal of International Law, Vol. 18, 2007, pp. 785-814 (29 pages)

(total: 427 pages)


Permanent Court of International Justice, Jurisdiction of the Courts of Danzig (Pecuniary Claims of Danzig Railway Officials who have passed into the Polish Service, against the Polish Railways Administration), Advisory Opinion, 3 March 1928, PCIJ Ser. B, No. 15 (36 pages)

International Court of Justice, LaGrand (Germany v. United States of America), Judgment, 27 June 2001, ICJ Reports (2001), p. 466 (55 pages)

International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, The Loewen Group, Inc. and Raymond L. Loewen v. United States of America, Award, 26 June 2003, 7 ICSID Reports (2005) 421 (71 pages)

International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, Archer Daniels Midland Company and Tate & Lyle Ingredients Americas, Inc. v. United Mexican States, Award, 21 November 2007, including Concurring Opinion of Arthur W. Rovine: Issues of Independent Investor Rights, Diplomatic Protection and Countermeasures, available at www.icsid.worldbank.org (excerpts: 50 pages)

European Court of Justice, Case 26/62, Van Gend en Loos v. Nederlandse Administratie der Belastingen, Judgment, 5 February 1963, [1963] ECR I (7 pages)

European Court of Justice, Joined Cases C-402/05 P and C-415/05 P, Yassin Abdullah Kadi and Al Barakaat International Foundation v Council and Commission, Judgment, 3 September 2008, [2008] ECR I-6351 (100 pages)

(total: 319 pages)

By the end of the course students will be competent to analyse and solve complex legal problems relating to regulation of the individual at the international level. Moreover, they will have acquired detailed understanding of the relationship between international law and domestic law enabling them to apply the specialized legal method that is required when tackling issues at the crossroad between legal systems.
Given the ever increasing regulation of individuals across the board of sub-fields of international law, the competences acquired during this course will benefit students pursuing a career in public administration as well as private practice both domestically and in an international setting.
Seminars: Seminars will include a significant amount of case work.
Blended learning: To ensure that the students’ learning activities do not only take place in the “classroom”, but also in between seminars, the course will involve online activities. Student wikis and blogs will be set up on Absalon to facilitate students’ reflection on and discussion of the course material online - under the teacher’s supervision.
The course presupposes a basic knowledge of public international law, e.g. equivalent to ‘folkeret’ at the BA-level. Students who have not previously taken a course on public international law must be prepared to acquire such knowledge on their own prior to the first seminar (reading material will be recommended by the teacher). All required readings are in English and class discussions will be conducted in English.
Students must be able to read, understand and speak English at a reasonable academic level. Students must be willing and able to attend and participate actively in the seminars and online activities.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 364,5
  • Seminar
  • 48
  • Total
  • 412,5
Type of assessment
Oral defence, 20 minutes
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Exam period

Autumn: December 7 - 11, 2015 (preliminary dates)


Please see the 'Academic' calendar' under 'Exam' in the Study pages