LAW 215: International Law

This guide is for students in Professor Toman's International Law course

Introduction to International Law

LAW 215 is a survey of public international law, including its nature and sources, international legal processes, treaties, and the role of municipal courts and international organizations.

The Nature of International Law

"It is a threadbare old saying that international law is neither international nor law, but a body of rules and usages. Each State can enforce its own rules against its own subjects; but there is no Sheriff or posse comitatus of the world."
Codifying International Law, New York Times, August 13, 1922

International Law is typically divided into two categories:

  • public international law -- law between states/countries, law among states and international organizations -- and
  • private international law, also called coflict of laws.

For general background information about either/both, try an advanced (or keyword) search in OSCAR for the phrases public international law, private international law, or conflict of laws. Search results will vary if you enclose the phrases in quotation marks.

You can also search by call number: private international law K7060, public international law KZ1100.

Sources of International Law

Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice lists the sources that the "World Court" will consider when deciding cases brought before it. The Article is often pointed to as an enumeration of the sources of international law.

  • international conventions (treaties)
  • custom
  • general principles of law
  • judicial decisions
  • teachings of the most highly qualified publicists

For information about each, see the Mabie Research Guide on International Legal Research.

International Legal Process

"International legal process (ILP) emphasizes understanding how international law works. It concentrates not so much on the exposition of rules and their content as on how international international legal rules are actually used by the makers of foreign policy."
Mary Ellen O'Connell, New International Legal Process, 93 The American Journal of International Law 334 (1999).

Harold Hongju Koh, Why Do Nations Obey International Law? 106 Yale Law Journal 2599 (1997).

Harold Hongju Koh, An Uncommon Lawyer: Tribute to Professor Abram Chayes, 42 Harvard International Law Journal 7 (2001).

Digest of Unted States Practice in International Law

A British Digest of International Law

Heafey Law Library Research Team