Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes - LAWS8082

Faculty: Faculty of Law

School: Faculty of Law

Course Outline: See below

Campus: Kensington Campus

Career: Postgraduate

Units of Credit: 6

EFTSL: 0.12500 (more info)

Indicative Contact Hours per Week: 2

Enrolment Requirements:

Prerequisite: Academic Program must be either 9200, 9210, 9230, 5740, 9235, 5235, 9240, 5760, 9211, 5211, 9281, 5281, 9220 or 5750.

Excluded: JURD7388, JURD7782, LAWS3188

CSS Contribution Charge: 3 (more info)

Tuition Fee: See Tuition Fee Schedule

Further Information: See Class Timetable

View course information for previous years.


This course focuses on the intersection of public international law and dispute resolution – settlement of disputes between members of the international community. It firstly examines the obligations of states to peacefully settle disputes, and the dynamics of disputes within the international system. It then focuses on formal & ad hoc mechanisms that can be used to address territorial disputes and issues of state liability; responses to systemic breaches of human rights; and trade disputes.

This course is also available to students undertaking relevant postgraduate non-law degree programs at UNSW, provided such enrolment is approved by the appropriate non-law Faculty.

LLM Specialisation

Recommended Prior Knowledge

A basic working knowledge of international law is useful but is not essential.

Course Objectives

  • To develop an understanding of the unique dynamics of disputes between sovereign states in the international system
  • To be familiar with the principles of international law that create the obligation upon states to peacefully resolve international disputes
  • To examine and critically assess the various settlement mechanisms available for resolving, in a peaceful manner, disputes arising between states.
  • To develop awareness of the appropriateness of particular settlement mechanisms to particular disputes
  • To apply skills of conflict analysis to international scenarios.
  • To develop an awareness of academic literature in the field, including critiques of the proliferation of international judicial bodies.

Main Topics

  • Obligations in international law to settle disputes peacefully, including obligations contained in the United Nations Charter and specific international agreements;
  • The institutional and ad hoc mechanisms available for state-state dispute settlement, including conciliation, good offices, mediation, fact finding, inquiry, and adjudication;
  • The role of non-state actors in international disputes;
  • Case studies of selected disputes and institutions, including the settlement of trade disputes in the World Trade Organisation and the 2000 Tokyo Women’s Tribunal;
  • Systemic issues in international dispute settlement, such as the availability of enforcement mechanisms; regionalism and the consequences of the increasing number of judicial bodies.


Class Participation – 10%
Case Study - 20%
Essay - 70%

Course Texts

JG Merrills, International Dispute Settlement (5th edn, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2011)

J Collier and V Lowe, The Settlement of Disputes in International Law: Institutions and Procedures (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1999)


Refer to the course outline which will be provided by the lecturer at the beginning of the relevant semester.
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Study Levels

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