The University of New South Wales

go to UNSW home page

Handbook Home

Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes - LAWS8082
 aerial view

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
Excluded: JURD7388, JURD7782, LAWS3188
CSS Contribution Charge:Band 3 (more info)
Further Information: See Class Timetable


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 particular disputes or institutions, including the settlement of trade disputes in the World Trade Organisation, the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 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

A reading list of journal articles and primary materials will be made available well prior to the commencement of class.

JG Merrills, International Dispute Settlement (4th edn, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2005)

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.

URL for this page:

© The University of New South Wales (CRICOS Provider No.: 00098G), 2004-2011. The information contained in this Handbook is indicative only. While every effort is made to keep this information up-to-date, the University reserves the right to discontinue or vary arrangements, programs and courses at any time without notice and at its discretion. While the University will try to avoid or minimise any inconvenience, changes may also be made to programs, courses and staff after enrolment. The University may also set limits on the number of students in a course.