PSCI 223
International Law Fall 2024
Division II

Class Details

International law embodies the rules that govern the society of states. It spells out who can be a sovereign state and how to become one, what states can do, what they cannot do, and who can punish transgressions. It also creates status for other actors, such as international organizations, soldiers, national liberation movements, refugees, terrorists, transnational air and sea shipping companies, and multinational corporations. International law is similar to domestic law, with one very crucial difference: it is not enforced by a centralized, sovereign state. There is no world government. In most other respects, it is the same: it protects the status quo, maintaining the unequal distribution of power among its members; it spells out legitimate and illegitimate ways of resolving conflicts of interest; it is biased toward the powerful and legitimates their interests; it tells its members how to act to coordinate their interests and minimize direct conflict; some of it is purely aspirational, some of it necessary for survival. Like domestic law, it is enforced only some of the time, and then against the weak more than the strong. Yet, law is still where we look for justice and, perhaps, for power to be tamed.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 25
Expected: 25
Class#: 1709
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Weekly quizzes, Glow posts, two papers on assigned topics, two group projects (video, audio, or paper)
Prerequisites: None, although those who have not taken introduction to international relations at Williams will be required to review one lecture ppt, then pass a basic quiz based on it by the end of the first week.
Enrollment Preferences: Political Science majors
Unit Notes: International relations subfield
Distributions: Division II
Attributes: JLST Interdepartmental Electives
PSCI International Relations Courses

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