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Course Information

United Nations Law and Practice Short Course

This short course begins with a history of the negotiation of the UN Charter. It surveys the role of the UN Security Council to maintain international peace and security, including its sweeping authority to adopt legally binding resolutions under Chapter VII of the UN Chapter and to authorize the use of force. The course examines how the Security Council has used its Chapter VII authority in specific cases, including, for example, through the imposition of legally binding sanctions, the creation of international criminal tribunals, such as the Yugoslavia and Rwanda Tribunals, and the authorization to use force to protect civilians in Libya. The course further examines the tension between the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly, with vetoes in the Security Council leading to General Assembly resolutions on the same issue, focusing in detail the Syria, Ukraine and Palestinian situations. The course will also discuss the UN Security Council’s establishment of peacekeeping missions. The course also focuses on the process of becoming a UN Member State, contrasting the South Sudanese and Palestinian applications. The course will also touch on international criminal justice mechanisms in connection with the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly. The course will also discuss the special role of the United States as host country of the United Nations, focusing on the treaty imposing obligations on the United States, the UN Headquarters Agreement. The course will include discussion of current (as of the time of the course) legal and political issues at the United Nations, and will invite students to bring the news of the day into class discussions. Lectures and class discussion will be supplemented by in-class exercises, including a mock briefing by the US Mission’s legal adviser of the US Ambassador to the United Nations. Prerequisite: Public International Law. Pass/Fail course. Enrollment limited.