Public International Law is a one-year Master’s specialisation at the internationally acclaimed Faculty of Law at Leiden University. The programme focuses on legislation that governs international relations in an increasingly complex global society.
In this programme you will gain a thorough understanding of the fundamental doctrines of public international law, studying different perspectives from theory and practice. We will also challenge you to develop your own views on the role and functioning of law in international society.
As a result of globalisation and international interdependence, international law is changing. Whereas in the past, this law was limited to relations between states, in recent years, organisations, peoples, business and individuals have also become part of the realm of international law. Who is entitled to intervene in situations of mass violations of human rights? Which means are allowed to combat international terrorism? Can the international community develop governance mechanisms, including law, to deal with problems such as global climate change?
This Master’s is taught in Leiden and at Campus The Hague. A unique feature of the programme is that it makes use of the expertise available in the various international institutions located in The Hague, such as the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Court and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
“The intercultural character of this programme serves as a strong motivation both for students and lecturers. We make considerable demands of our students, but they respect this. In my experience they want to be challenged.”
“International Law is a field with élan, with a diverse range of legal sources and a plurality of legal parties, both state and non-state. Leiden has the oldest Chair in International Law in the Netherlands and enjoys an eminent international reputation in this field. What is special is that our staff are also members of many relevant institutions or act as advisers to such institutions. We have, for example, recently prepared an advisory document on terrorism for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Our students come from all parts of the world. The intercultural character of this study serves as a strong motivation both for students and lecturers. A number of lectures are offered at Leiden University’s location in The Hague. A particularly valuable privilege which our students enjoy is access to the library of the Peace Palace, one of the best law libraries in the world.
A distinctive aspect of this master’s is the teaching methodology which we apply: the privatissimum and the practicum. We allow our students to carry out independent studies into a current international legal case, such as the affair with Argentina, which has filed a complaint against neighbouring Uruguay for the pollution caused by the construction of a paper factory on the river bordering the two countries. Students also have to gain experience of assuming different roles: one week they are a defence lawyer, then a prosecutor, then a judge. My students have to submit a paper each week in which they address current conflicts between national and international, economic and environmental law. We make considerable demands of our students, but they respect this. In my experience they want to be challenged.”
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