You see things and say 'Why?'; but I dream things that never were and I say 'Why not?

      George Bernard Shaw

Professor Maureen B. Fitzmahan

Contact information

© Maureen B. Fitzmahan, 2002


Case Studies in Public International Law

ILAW 501 - Fall - 2002

Course Syllabus

Four major developments in the 20th century have affected the structure and practice of international law
  • The end of the colonial era - creating a large number of new sovereign nations and creating a division between developed and developing countries
  • WWII - accelerated end of colonialism, brought war crimes and crimes against humanity to attention of international community, began the atomic age
  • The rise and fall of the Soviet Union - the Cold War and its demise
  • The September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the WTC in New York City, USA - highlighted the globalization of power outside the traditional sovereign states


The Webpage for this class ( includes this course syllabus, course schedule, assignments, readings, and supplemental materials for the course. It is the responsibility of all students to check this Webpage every week before class, as assignments may be posted on the Webpage, but not given during class meetings.


Reading will be available in the bookstore, on the Internet or on the Webpage. This class requires a significant amount of self-motivated research and study and writing. The student will be expected to find all sources of materials related to her/his topic. Though the Internet may have information, the student is expected to read scholarly work in current journals and law reviews that will need to be found at libraries around the region.


NOTE: This is a graduate level class. The expectations of this class are significantly higher that those of undergraduate classes. Students will be expected to do all readings and participate in the class discussions. Absences will greatly affect the final grade. Excuses of any kind, including outside employment, will not be accepted. The ability to write well is assumed and the written work will be graded in accordance with expectations of a student completing his/her LLM. If the LLM students feel that their writing is not up to the requisite level for writing at the graduate school level, it is highly recommended that those students take the graduate level writing class.

Participation and Daily work (20%)

Failure to participate in class discussions, failure to share research results and failure to aid the class in its understanding of the student’s field of research will lower the participation grade.

Participation and daily work will include, inter alia:

  • Participation in class discussions, which will require that students:
  • have a good understanding of international law. It may be necessary for students to review the issues of international law by taking a look at textbooks on international law, international human rights law, international environmental law, etc. Then, review treaties, cases and scholarly writings on:
    • Treaties and conventions
    • International customary law
    • International organizations (UN, WTO etc.)
    • International courts (ICJ, ICC, the international criminal tribunals)
    • Issues: Sovereignty, self-determination, nation-states, etc.
  • become a resident scholar/expert in one field.
  • Presentation of research and analysis on the student’s field of inquiry
  • Handing in a thesis and outline of research paper.
Type all assignments, 1.5 spaced, unless instructed otherwise. Assignments are due at the beginning of class on the date assigned, unless instructed otherwise. Daily assignments cannot be emailed! They must be handed in personally in class. Late assignments will not be accepted. Work not handed in will result in a 0 grade for that assignment. No exceptions, medical or otherwise.
Essays (30%)
    Essays (3-5 pages - The Professor will distribute the topics one week before the essays are due.
    • Essays will be grades with a holistic approach. Readability will be considered. Readability requires an excellent use of English, good paragraphing and perfect spelling.
    • Research is important and must be complete.
    • Essays must be accompanied by footnotes (primary and secondary sources). Use the Bluebook citation form.
    • Essays should be in 12 font, Times New Roman, 1.5 spaces, 1 inch margins.
      (No cover page is required.)
    • Plagiarism in the essay will result in a 0 in the class.
Research paper (50%) One 12 – 15 page research paper. Same guidelines as essays.
Grade Changes

If you are confused about a grade received, please make an appointment and come and see me. I enjoy meeting with students. This is a good time to learn, to understand the law and your subject better. Use this time to learn how to better take the next exam. When you come to discuss grades, I expect you to be respectful and to listen attentively to my remarks. In addition, once I have discussed your exam, re-examined your grade and given you my decision on whether or not I will change your grade, I expect you to respond professionally and accept my decision without complaint. I will automatically correct any mathematical errors I have made. Other than that, generally I do not like to change grades. Grading is a time-consuming and difficult process. The only fair way to do grading is to grade in the context of each class. I look for a fair overall grade distribution and follow the rank of each student within the class in awarding the final grade.


I seldom give incompletes - for any reason. Plan your time well. If you feel that you will not be able to complete the work as assigned, be sure to withdraw from the class before the withdrawal deadline.


Concordia´s policy on academic honesty will be strictly enforced. In addition, the honor code for this class shall also apply. Any violation of the latter will be treated as cheating, and will result in a 0 grade for that work. In addition, it will result in a 30% reduction of your final grade. A second case of cheating will result in a 0 in your final grade. Any instance of cheating will be reported to the Dean of the law faculty. Any instance of cheating will result in placing your name on the faculty list of offenders. Repeated infringements of the honor code, within this class or between classes, will be sanctioned by suspension or dismissal from the University. No exceptions, no excuses.

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Last Update - 08/09/02