LAWSG178 Law of Treaties

Credit value: 30 credits (15 ECTS, 300 learning hours)
Convenor: Danae Azaria
Other Teachers: None
Teaching Delivery: 20 x 2-hour weekly seminars, 10 seminars per term, Term One and Two
Who may enrol: Any UCL Master’s student
Prerequisites: None
Must not be taken with: None
Qualifying module for: LLM in International Law
Introductory video Currently there is no introductory video for this module
Practice Assessment: Opportunity for feedback on one mock examination
Final Assessment: One 3-hour unseen written examination (100%)
Module Overview
Module summary:

Treaties are a central means by which states and international organisations regulate their relationships under international law. The collection of the United Nations Treaty Series currently contains over 180,000 treaties, multilateral and bilateral, between states and between states and international organisations. These cover a wide range of subject matters, such as trade, investment, human rights, refugees, disarmament, the environment, the law of the sea, the use of cross-border watercourses, and boundary delimitation. Additionally, most international organisations, such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the European Union, and the Council of Europe, have been created by treaty. The conclusion and entry in force of treaties, the observance, application, and interpretation of treaties, their amendment and modification, their invalidity, termination and the suspension of their operation, as well as succession of states in respect of treaties and the effect of war on the operation of treaties – all these fundamental issues, which arise in relation to bilateral and multilateral treaties of any subject matter, pertain to the law of treaties and form the focus of this course. This course will provide an overview of the law of treaties, some rules of which are customary. It will examine the rules contained in three treaties:

  1. the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties between States;
  2. the 1986 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties between States and International Organisations; and
  3. the Vienna Convention on Succession of States in respect of Treaties.

The analysis will be put in the context of modern debates relating to treaties in various areas of international law, and will make use of literature, the work of the UN International Law Commission (‘ILC’), and international case law in various fields, such in relation to the WTO Agreement, treaties in the area of the law of the sea, investment treaties, human rights treaties, treaties on the protection of the environment, on natural resources, as well as treaties on international humanitarian law and international criminal law.

The intention is to illustrate and to prepare students for the application of the law of treaties in different substantive areas of international law, and to demonstrate the specific challenges and developments regarding the law of treaties in diverse areas of international law.

Module syllabus:

The course is composed of four parts.

  • First, the course will explain the sources of the law of treaties and set out the definition of a ‘treaty’. It will then focus on treaty making and will demonstrate the procedure of concluding treaties.
  • Second, the course explores the observance and operation of treaties. The relationship between treaties and domestic law, the application of successive treaties, the interpretation of treaties, their amendment and modification, and the relationship of third states to treaties and the relationship between international law and domestic law are examined.
  • Third, the course analyses the invalidity and termination of treaties, the suspension of their operation, as well as succession of states in respect of treaties.
  • Fourth, four concluding seminars integrate the knowledge and skills acquired during the course.
Recommended materials:

Module reading lists and other module materials will be provided via online module pages, once students have made their module selections upon enrolment.

Preliminary reading: