620258 :GLB: International Legal History


Voertaal Engels
Werkvorm: Lecture (Collegerooster)
Tentamenvorm: Written open book exam; weekly written assignment; short class presentation (Tentamenrooster)
Studielast:6 ECTS credits
Blackboard informatieniet beschikbaar in Blackboard


A. Delic (coordinator)

prof. dr. R.C.H. Lesaffer
No photo available
I. Van Hulle

mr. H.J. Nho LLM

Doel van de cursus (alleen in het Engels beschikbaar)

After the successful completion of ‘International Legal History (GLB),’ the student is able:

  1. To describe and outline the emergence, evolution and expansion of international legal systems
  2. To explicate and comprehend the ways in which law structures international systems and operates within international systems
  3. To outline and critically analyse the legal consequences of interaction, collision and integration of international systems
  4. To understand and elaborate upon the relevance of structural and cultural aspects of the international order and relate this to the nature and operation of law from an historical perspective
  5. To relate insights of international relations theory on international systems and international law to historical cases
  6. To understand, explain and discuss fundamental changes in international legal orders from a historical perspective

Inhoud van de cursus (alleen in het Engels beschikbaar)

Since the earliest beginnings of recorded history, political entities have regulated their relations in accordance with normative and legal standards. While the dominant strand of inter-power law became the Western tradition of international law, which also had the greatest impact on current international law, throughout history almost every major civilisation also developed its own ‘international law’.

The course covers the history of international law from Antiquity to the present. While the focus is on the West, the main developments relating to other civilisations (e.g. medieval Sharia law, colonial encounters, etc.) are also discussed. The evolution of international law is mainly but not solely traced through its intellectual history. The nature of international law and its relation to transnational law – the law regulating the relations between private persons belonging to different states – as well as the impact of globalisation are scrutinised.

Bijzonderheden (alleen in het Engels beschikbaar)


The exam is a written, open book exam. It consists of four open questions to which students have to provide a reasoned answer (max. 1-2 pages). Students may use the prescribed literature, but no other materials such as notes, powerpoints etc. The literature may carry high-marks but may not be written on.


Students will write a paper on a topic pertinent to international legal history by researching both primary and secondary sources. 

Seminar Participation and Activities

Students are expected to participe in seminar discussions and complete in-class assignments.


During the lectures, quizzes will be given sporadically to test students' understanding of the assigned reading. 


Verplichte literatuur

  1. Neff, Stephen C., Justice among nations. A history of international law, Harvard University Press, 2014, ISBN 9780674725294.
  2. Draft chapter by Randall Lesaffer on German unification, to be downloaded from Blackboard.

Verplicht voor