Saturday, August 06, 2011

Syllabus for a Course on Actors, Institutions, and Legal Frameworks in International Affairs

This is the second year I will be teaching one of the core courses at the School of International Affairs at Penn State: Actors, Institutions, and Legal Frameworks in International Affairs.
 This course introduces students to the various levels of international interaction and exchange (supranational, state-to-state, state-to-private, private-to-private); the sources and limitations of law and regulation at each level; and the variety of actors and institutions characteristic of each level. The course explores the roles, authority, and limitations of the institutions and actors at each level and the implications of these for domestic and transnational governance, development, human rights, commerce, migration, and civil society. (From the Penn State Website)

I have found it both challenging and quite rewarding to teach the legal framework of the international order--and the current challenges to the state as a foundation of the global order and law as the framework for governance.  The course helpos spotlight both the embeddedness of law in the construciton of governnace systems and its use to isolate and manage those systems in accordance with its own logic--a logic sometimes at substantial variance with intention and practice.  The result, many times, is the use of law strategically, the perversities of formalist approaches and the loss of discipline in functional approaches. 

While the course is designed as a standard U.S. style 3 credit course; it can also be segmented or taught in more abbreviated form.  The materials were selected to substantially reduce the costs of published materials for students.  Many of the readings are available on line or easily placed on library reserve.  The required texts (if purchased in paperback or used, constitute a relatively minor expense). I have increasingly embraced the idea that if a source is sold on line I will avoid using it in favor of another that is available without charge.  This is particularly relevant where students have less discretionary income.  I am happy to discuss the course and its possible variations.


From the Course Catalog:

This course addresses the principal actors at various levels of interaction in international affairs: supra-national bodies, States, quasi-States, international organizations and institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), transnational corporations, and individuals. Emphasis will be placed on the sources and the limitations imposed by various legal regimes (general and regional international law, national (or municipal) legal systems, internal administrative regulation (for international organizations), and attention given to the roles and authority of actors and limitations on those roles and authority in the domains of development, human rights, international transactions, migration, public health, and civil society generally.

What does this mean? 

First, students will be introduced to the range of organizations that populate the landscape of international affairs.  In line with the current global framework of hierarchies of political power, that means a focus on the state.  The students will consider the state system—that is, the state as a political organization and as an actor among other states and non-state actors. They will be introduced to notions of differences between governors and governed and hierarchies of authority.  They will also be introduced to the distinctions between international and domestic law systems, and non-law systems.  Together these provide the framework within which international actors operate.

Second, students will learn about each of these entities. Students start with the state.  All other international actors are then considered from the perspective of this touchstone entity—quasi-states (e.g. Somalia, Palestine, Kosovo); international organizations (e.g., United Nations); supra-national organizations (regional trade organization, ); transnational corporations (e.g. Nike) and non-economic corporate actors (e.g., Oxfam); and individuals. The focus of this exploration with respect to each of these actors will be similar: how are they constituted, who are their stakeholders, what is the extent of their authority (internal and external), to which other entities are they dependent, how to they operate. 

Third, students will consider how each of these entities operates within the global context.  They will consider the “rules of engagement” among these institutions.  They will also explore the ways in which these institutions communicate with each other (notions of structural coupling), how or to what extent they retain autonomy with respect to internal and external activity), and how their interactions affect policy, culture, economics, and globalization. 

Fourth, the context of these investigations will be grounded in the legal frameworks within which these institutions operate, or against which they might function.  Students will be expected to acquire a rudimentary knowledge of the international law system, and its distinction from domestic law systems.  Students will also explore the quasi-legal nature of governance systems—rules that have the functional effect of “law” but are not produced through the organs of state actors.

Fifth, students will learn how to manage and present information.  Students will be expected to work together in groups to develop and present policy positions and background analysis on a number of the topic areas covered in class.  To master the materials it will be necessary to show not merely a knowledge of the materials studied but to apply them in a working context.           


Many of the readings for the semester will be drawn from these texts.  While they are available at the bookstore, you might consider buying them either used or elsewhere to save money.   


José E. Alvarez, International Organizations as Law-Makers, Oxford University Press,  2006, ISBN 978-0-19-876563-9 (Paperback)

Networked Politics: Agency, Power, and Governance (Miles Kahler, ed.) Cornell University Press, 21009.  ISBN 978-0-8014-7476-7 (Paperback).

Materials to be distributed via Angel.


Dan Sarooshi, International Organizations and Their Exercise of Sovereign Powers, Oxford University Press 2005.  ISBN  978-0-19-922577 (Paperback).

Jan Klabbers, An Introduction to International Institutional Law 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press 2009.  ISBN 978-0-521-73616-9 (Paperback).

Non-State Actors in International Relations (Bas Arts, Math Noortmann and Bob Reinalda, eds., Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001).  ISBN 0 7546 1848 X


August  22:     Introduction
                        -- Course Information & Syllabus memo
                       --Larry Catá Backer, Economic Globalization Ascendant: Four Perspectives on the Emerging Ideology of the State in the New Global Order. University of California, Berkeley La Raza Law Journal, Vol. 17, No. 1, 2006. Available at SSRN:
                        --Backer, Larry Catá, Inter-Systemic Harmonization and its Challenges for the Legal-State (March 17, 2011). THE LAW OF THE FUTURE AND THE FUTURE OF THE LAW, Sam Muller, Stavros Zouridis, Laura Kistemaker and Morly Frishman, eds., Torkel Opsahi Academic Editor, 2011; The Pennsylvania State University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 13-2011. Available at SSRN:

August 24:      International Organizations and IO Law—The Traditional View
                        --Course Information & Syllabus memo
                        --Alvarez, pp. 1-57
                        --Math Noortmann, Non-State Actors in International Law, in Non-State Actors in International Relations (Bas Arts, Math Noortmann and Bob Reinalda, eds., Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001. READ PAGES 59-76.
August 29:      An Alternative--International Institutional Law as Transnational Law
                        --  Larry Catá Backer, Principles of Transnational Law: The Foundations of an Emerging Field, Law at the End of the Day, March 9, 2007, available
                        -- Philip C. Jessup, Transnational Law (New Haven:  Yale University Press,                                  1956), pp. 1-16.
                        --  Peer Zumbasen, Transnational Law, CLPE Research Paper 09/2008 Vol. 04(2).  Available
                        -- Craig Scott, “Transnational Law” as Proto-Concept:  Three Conceptions, 10(7) German Law Journal 859 (2009). Available at                 
                        -- Reza Dibadj, Panglossian Transnationalism, 44 Stanford Journal of International Law 253 (2008).  READ PP: 256-72 (PART II).
                        -- Anders Esmark, The Functional Differentiation of Governance:  Public Governance Beyond Hierarchy, Market and Networks, Public Administration  Vol. 87(2): 351-370 (2009).  READ PP. 353–356

August 31:  The Foundation:  Strong States and their constitutions
                       --Larry Catá Backer, God(s) Over Constitutions: International and Religious Transnational Constitutionalism in the 21st Century. Mississippi Law Review, Vol. 27, 2008. Available at SSRN:
                        --J.P. Nettl, “The State as a Conceptual Vehicle,” in The State: Critical Concepts. Volume: 1 (John A. Hall, ed., London: Routledge, 1994) 9-36.
                        --Westel W. Willoughby, The Fundamental Concepts Of Public Law (New York: MacMillan, 1924). Excerpts.

                        OPTIONAL:  Restatement (Third) of Foreign Relations Law of the United States, § 201.

September 5:   No Class (Labor Day).

September 7:  Weak States in the State System
            -- Peter T. Leeson and Caludia R. Williamson, Anarchy and Development: An Application of the Theory of Second Best, Law & Development Review  2009.
            --  Ken Menkhaus, Governance Without Government in Somalia:  Spoilers, State Building and the Politics of Coping, International Security 31(3): 74-106 (2007).  READ PP: 83-93
            -- Larry Catá Backer, Of Somali Pirates, Global Corporations and the State: Governance Without Government, Government without a State and Military Power,  Law at the End of the Day, June 28, 2009
            --  Larry Catá Backer, Regulating Global Capital Markets: Somali Pirate Capital Markets, the South Sea Bubble and the Limits of Law, Law at the End                       of the Day, Jan. 1, 2010.
            -- Christopher Jasperro, Somalia’s Piracy Offers Lessons in Global  Governance, Yale Global Online, April 6, 2009.  (
                        --Team presentations. Each team is to prepare a presentation, to be delivered in class  (PowerPoint encouraged though not required), making the case that the state assigned their group might be a weak state :
                                    Team A—Belgium
                                    Team B—Palestine
                                    Team C—South Sudan
                                    Team D—Afghanistan
                                    Team E—Lebanon
                                    Team F—Haiti
                                    Team G—Mexico
September 12: International Institutional Law:  Autonomy of Actors
                        --Alvarez, Chapter 2.

September 14
Sept. 13):        International Institutional Law:  IO Law Making
                        --Alvarez, chapter 3.
                        Optional Readings:
                       --American Law Institute, Restatement 3rd of the Law of Foreign Relations  (1987) handout; Sec. 103; 221.

September 19:  International Institutional Law—Specific Examples
                        --Alvarez, chapter 4
                        --Team presentations; Each team is to prepare a presentation (Powerpoint encouraged                  but not required) describing the organization and its rule making functions:
                                    Team A—IAEA Standards,
                                    Team B—Codex Alimentarius
                                    Team C—IO Advisory Opinions
                                    Team D—ILO Recommendations
                                    Team E—ICAO
                                    Team F— WHO
                                    Team G— FAO

September 21
(Rescheduled to
Sept. 20):        Dispute Settlement—Non judicial Actors
                        --Alvarez, Chapter 7.

September 26:  Dispute Settlement—Judicial Bodies
                        --Alvarez, Chapter 8.

September 28:  The International Court of Justice
                        --The ICJ at a Glance
                        --ICJ General FAQs
                        --ICJ Advisory Opinion FAQs
                        --Medellin v. Texas,
            --Accordance with International Law of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence  in Respect of Kosovo, ICJ, July 22, 2010, Gen, List No. 141 (Advisory Opinion).  Available

                Optional Reading
-- Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory Advisory Opinion 2004 July 9 General List No. 131 (July 9, 2004) (available The opinion is very long.  Please read Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall  in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (Request for advisory opinion) Summary of the Advisory Opinion of 9 July 2004 ( and then focus on
            1.  Jurisdiction: Paragraphs 14-15, 24-25, 36, 38, 40.
            2.  Consent:  Paragraphs 46-47, 49.
            3.  Legal Basis:  Paragraphs 86-89, 102-111 (especially 89 on jus     cogens)
            4.  Application of Law:  Paragraph 115 (de facto annexation) versus Paragraph116 (proportionate anti-terrorism measures). 
            5. Legal Consequences:  Paragraphs 148-158.
            6.  Remedies: Paragraph 159-160.

October 3:  The International Criminal Court System
                        -- ICC Overview.
                        -- ICC About the Court.
                        -- ICC – Structure of the Court.
                        -- ICC Frequently Asked Questions.
                        -- ICC Activity Report
                        -- Background Materials (for reference only)
                                    a.  Rome Statute
                                    b.  Elements of Crimes
                                    c.  Rules of Procedure and Evidence
                                    d. Regulations of the Court
                                    e.  Agreement on Privileges and Immunities
                                    f. Regulations of Prosecutor
                                    g. Staff Regulations of the Court
                                    h.  Code of Judicial Ethics
October 5:       Class Exercise:  ICC Actions
                        --Team presentations ; each team is to prepare a presentation (Powerpoint encouraged but not required) (1) for individuals already indicted describing the arguments that can be made for and against the arrest and prosecution; and (2) for those no yet indicted describing the arguments for and against indictment under the rules.      
                                    Team A—Dyllo Case (Congo)
                                    Team B—Bashir Case (Sudan)
                                    Team C—William Samoei Ruto, Henry Kiprono Kosgey and        Joshua Arap Sang (Kenya)
                                    Team D—Gaddafi Case (Libya)
(Some relevant materials at Larry Catá Backer, On Intervention in Libya: The Emerging Nature of Supra-National Legal Framework/Norms for Disciplining States and their Leaders by Others,  Law at the End of the Day, July 13, 2011)
                                    Team E—Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen  (Uganda)
                                    Team F—Bashar Assad (Syria)
(Some relevant materials:  Solomon, U.S. Pushes to Try Syria Regime, Wall S. J. (June 18, 2011) (;  Shanker, War Crimes Charges Weighed as Crisis Continues in Syria, N.Y. Times (June 19, 2011) (; Reuters, Russia’s Medvedev Opposed to U.N. Vote on Syria: Report, (London, June 19, 2011)(
                                    Team G—Taliban (Afghanistan)
(some relevant readings:  Amnesty International, Afghanistan: Taliban should be prosecuted for war crimes, Aug. 10, 2010) (

                        --See above

October 7
Oct. 6:             The Regional Human Rights System:
Analysis and Evaluation of African and OAS Systems in comparison to European System.  TEAMS A-C focusing on African system, and Teams D-G focusing on OAS systems. Be prepared to discuss differences in organization, jurisprudence, effectiveness and involvement of other state and non-state actors.

International Human Rights Institutions:  European System
-- Thomas Buergenthal, The Evolving International Human Rights System, 100 Am. J. Int'l L. 783 (2006).  READ INTRODUCTION AND PARTS I & IV.
            -- The ECHR System:
                        A.  ECHR History Information
                        B.  ECHR Brochure
                        C.  ECHR Questions & Answers
                        D.  ECHR FAQs
                        E.  ECHR Facts & Figures
                        F.  ECHR COUNTRY FACTS
                        G.  ECHR Treaty
                        H. ECHR CASE PROCESS
                        I.  ECHR Rules of Court
                        J.  ECHR Addendum to Rules
                        K.  ECHR General Measures
            -- Frank Hoffmeister, Germany:  The Status of European Convention on Human Rights in Domestic Law, 4(4) International Journal of Constitutional Law 722 (2006).

October 10
Oct. 7):    Human Rights and the Domestic Legal Orders of States; the OAS and AU Systems

 Additional Readings TEAMS A-C: African System Information.  Also review system documents:
            B. Interim Rules of Court
            G.  Anna Dolidze, African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights – Response        to the Situation in Libya, ASIL Insights, 15(20) (July 26, 2011); available
            H. African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights v. Great Socialist   People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, available   

Additional Readings TEAMS D-G: The Inter-American System:
            A.  IAHR System
            B.  IAHR Commission
            C.  IAHR Court of Human Rights
            D.  IAHR Convention
            E.  IAHR American Declaration
            F.  IAHR OAS Charter
            G.  IAHR Democratic Charter
            H. IAHR Statute of the IACHR
            I.  IAHR Rules of Court
            J.  IAHR Petition Form
            K.  IAHR Statute of the Inter American Commission
            L.  IAHR Procedure Rules Commission

October 12
Oct. 10):                      NGOs
                        --Bob Reinalda and Bertjan Verbeek, Theorizing Power Relations Between NGOs,Intergovernmental Organizations, and States, , in Non-State Actors in International Relations (Bas Arts, Math Noortmann and Bob Reinalda, eds.,  Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001. READ PAGES 145-158.
                     --Bob Reinalda, Private in Form, Public in Purpose:  NGOs in International  Relations Theory, in Non-State Actors in International Relations (Bas Arts,   Math Noortmann and Bob Reinalda, eds., Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001. READ PAGES 11-40.
                        --Networked Politics, pp. 127-170.
                        -- We the peoples: civil society, the United Nations and global governance
 Report of the Panel of Eminent Persons on United Nations–Civil Society Relations (2004) (Cardozo Report)  READ 7-13; 23-31.

                       --Peter R. Baehr, Non-Governmental Human Rights Organizations in  International Relations (Palgrave 2009) ISBN 978-0-230-20134-7 (hrdbk)  pp. 1-48.

October 17
Oct. 12):  International Organizations as Financial Institutions:  IMF & World Bank
                        -- IMF History
                        -- IMF Overview
                        -- IMF Governance and Organization
                        -- IMF Surveillance
                        -- IMF Lending and Conditionality
                                    A. IMF Conditionality Statement (SKIM)
                                    B. IMF Conditionality Statement Addendum (SKIM)
                        -- IMF Technical Assistance
                        -- Current Challenges
                        -- IMF Articles of Agreement (BACKGROUND; SKIM)
                        --World Bank Overview and History

October 17-19:NO CLASS; EXAM PERIOD.
October 24-26: Class Exercise: Negotiating a National Agreement with IMF PART I.
                        -- Example: Pakistan:
--Request for Stand-By Arrangement—Staff Report; Staff Supplement; Press Release on the Executive Board Discussion; and Statement by the Executive Director for Pakistan  (READ PAGES 1-19).
-- International Bank For Reconstruction And Development And The International Development Association And The International Finance Corporation Country            Assistance Strategy For The Islamic Republic Of Pakistan For The Period Fy06-09 (April 4,2006) (READ 12-32)
                        --Team Country Assignments and Research for presentations:
                     Team A—El Slavador (
                     Team B—Portugal (
                     Team C—Mongolia (
                     Team D—Peru (
                     Team E—Ethiopia (
                     Team F—Indonesia (
                     Team G—Nepal (

October 31:     Class Exercise: Negotiating a National Agreement with IMF PART II.  Teams will meet to negotiate an agreement.  Half of each team will represent the state, the other half the officials from the IMF.              

November 2:   Class Exercise: Negotiating a National Agreement with IMF PART III.
                        --Group Presentations of results of negotiations and terms of loan for each state  assigned.         

November 7: Regional Trade Organizations
                        --  Jo-Ann Crawford and Roberto Fiorentino, The Changing Landscape of Regional  Trade Agreement, World Trade Organization Discussion Paper No. 8 (2005).  READ   PARTS I& II pp. 1-16.
                        --Colin B. Picker, Regional Trade Agreements v. The WTO:  A Proposal for Reform of Article XXIV to Counter this Institutional Threat, 26 University of Pennsylvania Journal of Economic law 267 (2005).  READ pp. 268-304.
               -- Welber Barral, Dispute Settlement and Legal Harmonization in MERCOSUR, in Harmonizing Law in an Era of Globalization:  Convergence, Divergence and Resistance (Larry Catá Backer, ed., Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2007).
                        --Larry Catá Backer and Augusto Molina, Cuba and the Construction of Alternative  Global Trade Systems: ALBA and Free Trade in the Americas (May 20, 2009).   University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Economic Law, Vol. 31, No. 3,  2010. Available at SSRN:

November 9: World Trade Organization
                        -- Understanding the WTO
                        -- WTO Governance
                        -- WTO Dispute Resolution
                        -- WTO Dispute Resolution Chart
                        -- WTO Viet Nam Accession documentation
                        Optional Readings:
                       American Law Institute Restatement 3rd Foreign Relations (1987) Handout.

November 14:  Multinational Corporations as IOs
                        -- Larry Catá Backer, Multinational Corporations as Objects and Sources of
Transnational Law, 14 ILSA Journal of International and Comparative Law 499 (2008).

November 16: Multinational Corporations as Objects of IO Regulation:  OECD and UN
                        --Larry Catá Backer, Rights and Accountability in Development (Raid) V Das Air and Global Witness V Afrimex: Small Steps Toward an Autonomous Transnational   Legal System for the Regulation of Multinational Corporations (June 30, 2009). Melbourne Journal of International Law, Vol. 10, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:
                        --Larry Catá Backer, On the Evolution of the United Nations’ 'Protect-Respect- Remedy' Project: The State, the Corporation and Human Rights in a Global  Governance Context (June 3, 2010). Santa Clara Journal of International Law, Vol. 9, No.1, 2010. Available at SSRN:

November 21-

November 28:  Criminal and Clandestine Actors—From Mafia to al Qaeda
                 --Networked Politics, pp.  79-124
                --Backer, Larry Catá, The Drama of Corporate Law: Narrator between Citizen, State  and Corporation (Winter 2009). Michigan State Law Review, Vol. 2009, No. 4. p. 1111, Winter 2009. Available at SSRN:  READ PART II (“Beyond Master Narrative:  The Non-Domesticated Corporation”).

November 30  Introduction to Polycentricity in Governance; States using private markets to affect   regulation (Norway); trade, states corporations and human rights
                        --Backer, Larry Catá, Inter-Systemic Harmonization and its Challenges for the Legal- State (March 17, 2011). THE LAW OF THE FUTURE AND THE FUTURE OF  THE LAW, Sam Muller, Stavros Zouridis, Laura Kistemaker and Morly Frishman, eds., Torkel Opsahi Academic Editor, 2011; The Pennsylvania State University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 13-2011. Available at SSRN:
                        --Larry Catá Backer, Private Actors and Public Governance Beyond the State: The  Multinational Corporation, the Financial Stability Board and the Global Governance   Order,17 Indiana Journal Global Legal Studies (forthcoming 2011). Available
                        -- Anna di Robilant, Genealogies of Soft Law, 54 AMERICAN JOURNAL OF  COMPARATIVE LAW 499 (2006).
                         --Larry Catá Backer, Globalization and the Socialist Multinational: Cuba and  ALBA’s Grannacional Projects at the Intersection of Business and Human Rights  (August 1, 2010). Available at SSRN:

December 5
-Dec. 7:    States as Private Actors—Sovereign Wealth Funds and SOEs
              --Larry Catá Backer, Sovereign Investing in Times of Crisis: Global Regulation of  Sovereign Wealth Funds, State Owned Enterprises and the Chinese Experience. Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems, Vol. 19, No. 1, 2009; Penn State Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-2009. Available at SSRN:
                        --Larry Catá Backer, Sovereign Wealth Funds as Regulatory Chameleons: The  Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Funds and Public Global Governance Through Private  Global Investment (May 4, 2009). Georgetown Journal of International Law, Vol. 41,  No. 2, 2009. Available at SSRN:
                        --International Working Group of Sovereign Wealth Funds, Generally Accepted Principles and Practices (GAPP)—Santiago Principles.  Available for download at
                        --OECD Guidelines for SOEs.  Available                                 ,3343,en_2649_34847_34046561_1_1_1_1,00.html.

No comments: