Studying Law at RomaTre

Academic Year 2020-2021

Fall Semester (October 1 - December 18, 2020)


Law of international Organisations 2020

Prof. Mirko Sossai

Fall Semester, 2020/21
7 CFUs - ECTS, Wednesday, 16:00–19:00; Thursday, 16:00–19:00

Office hours: Thursday, 15:00-16:00, room 1.10.A, via ostiense 139

Course description:
The purpose of the course is to provide an introduction to the principles and norms of international law applicable to the inter-governmental organisations (IGOs). It discusses the essential topics of the law of international organisations, including powers, privileges and immunities, as well as membership rules, institutional structures, and accountability. There is a focus on the United Nations system, as the paradigmatic IGO, including the activities of the specialised agencies based in Rome. Special emphasis is placed on the interaction between universalism and regionalism. IGOs have developed into a pervasive phenomenon: a fundamental objective of the course is to develop a critical understanding of their impact vis-à-vis the current global challenges (economic and financial crises, migration, armed conflicts, disarmament, natural disasters, pandemics).

Course Learning Objectives
At the end of this course, students should be proficient in the following subject areas and skills:
  • being familiar with the historical development and the theoretical approaches related to international organisations law
  • understanding the concept of international organisation, as well as those of the legal personality and legal capacities, under international and national law.
- having knowledge of the global and regional systems
- carrying out proper analysis on selected issues
- performing legal research and writing in English in the area of international organisations law

Course Learning Activities

To achieve the above objectives, texts, relevant documentation and case-law will be presented and students will engage in class discussions/debates. Experts in the field, including legal officers of the international organisations in Rome, will offer seminars on specific topics. In addition, students are encouraged to make oral presentations and to write a short essay.

Assessment tools
Student evaluation will be based on class work, class participation, a short essay, and a final exam.

Attendance policy
Class attendance is compulsory

Course textbook
Nigel White, The Law of International Organisations, 3rd ed., Manchester UP, 2016

Supporting / Recommended course reading material
Students will receive a reader which will include selected articles and excerpts from relevant literature

Course Schedule

Week  Topic and/or Activity Materials
1. The rise of international organisations: history and definition

Case Study: The International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT) in Italy
J. Klabbers, Unity, Diversity, Accountability: The Ambivalent Concept of International Organisation, in Melbourne J of Int'l L, 2013, 1-22

R. Kolb, International Organizations or
Institutions, History of, in Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law (2014)
2. Membership, voting and funding

Case Study I: Palestina as a member of international organisations

Case Study II: the voting system of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
K. Magliveras, Membership in International Organizations, in J. Klabbers, Å. Wallendahl (eds), Research Handbook on the Law of International organizations (Elgar 2011) 84-107

D. Akande, Palestine as a UN Observer State: Does this Make Palestine a State?, in EJIL:Talk!, 2 December 2012
3. International organizations and the law of treaties

Case study: the Constitution of the International Organization for Migration (IOM)
N. Blokker, Constituent Instruments, in The Oxford Handbook of International Organizations (OUP 2016) 943-961

J. Klabbers, Notes on the Ideology of International Organizations Law: The International Organization for Migration, State-Making, and the Market for Migration, in Leiden Journal of International Law, 2019, 383-400

The legal personality

Case study: The assassination of Count Bernadotte: the UN as a subject of international law

Reparation for Injuries Suffered in the Service of the United Nations (Advisory Opinion), ICJ Reports 1949

N. Blokker & H. Schermers, International Institutional Law: Unity Within Diversity (5 ed, Brill 2011) 986-998
5. Immunities and privileges

Case study: the Immunities of FAO in Italian Courts
R. Pavoni, Italy, in A. Reinisch (ed), The Privileges and Immunities of International Organizations in Domestic Courts, OUP, 2013, 155-171

D. Desierto, SCOTUS Decision in Jam et al v. International Finance Corporation (IFC) Denies Absolute Immunity to IFC…With Caveats, EJIL:Talk!, 28 February  2019

6. The doctrine of powers

Case Study (I): the UN Security Council as legislator

Case Study (II): The Role of the OPCW in identifying the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons in Syria
N. Blokker, International Organizations or Institutions, Implied Powers, in Max Planck EPIL

Option I: M. Happold, Security Council Resolution 1373 and the Constitution of the United Nations, Leiden Journal of International Law, 2003, 593-610

Option II: M. Sossai, Identifying the Perpetrators of Chemical Attacks in Syria: The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons as Part of the Fight Against Impunity?, Journal of International Criminal Justice, 2019, 211-227
7. Institutional law-making: a new source of international law?

Case Study: COVID-19 and the WHO’s International Health Regulations (2005)
R. Virzo, The Proliferation of Institutional Acts of International Organizations: a Proposal for their Classification, in R. Virzo and I. Ingravallo (eds), Evolutions in the Law of International Organizations (Brill 2015)

G. Bartolini, Are You Ready for a Pandemic? The International Health Regulations Put to the Test of Their ‘Core Capacity Requirements’, in EJIL:Talk!, 1 June 2020
8. Sanctions

Case Study: Targeted sanctions and terrorism: the role of the UN Ombudsperson
L. van den Herik, The Individualization and Formalization of UN Sanctions, in L. van den Herik (ed.), Research Handbook on UN Sanctions and International Law (Elgar 2017), 1-20.
9. Military measures

Case study (I): UN, NATO and the Military Intervention in Libya

Case Study II: MINUSMA: UN Peacekeeping in Mali
Option I: N. Ronzitti, Nato's intervention in Libya: a genuine action to protect a civilian population in mortal danger or an intervention aimed at regime change?, in Italian Yearbook of International Law, 2011, 3-20

Option II: H. Strydom, Mali and the Sahel: Making Peace in Another Rough Neighbourhood, in Neth Int Law Rev, 2019, 75–99
Issues of responsibility

Case Study: The failure to protect civilians in Srebrenica
P. Palchetti, The Allocation of Responsibility for Internationally Wrongful Acts Committed in the Course of Multinational Operations,  International Review of the Red Cross, 2013, 727-742



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