Essential International Law Cases for the Classroom (Six Years Later)
As summer winds down, I’m beginning to look ahead to the coming semester in which I’ll be teaching public international law after a couple of years’ hiatus. As a result, I’ve spent the week, re-working my syllabus (and thanking Ecuador for giving me a wonderfully topical way to start off the class). Beyond current events, however, I’ve once again spent some time
procrastinating thinking about those international law cases I “must” have my students read — essential elements of the international law canon if you will. I’ve done this before — six years ago, in fact, I posted a top-5 list of public international law cases and encouraged readers to contribute their own “must-reads” for students entering the field of international law. Here’s the list I came up with then:
(1) The S.S. Lotus (France v. Turkey), 1927 PCIJ (Ser. A) No.10
(2) Mortensen v. Peters, 8 Sess. Cas. (5th Ser.) 93 (1906)
(3) Case Concerning Military and Paramilitary Activities in and Against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States) 1984 ICJ 169, 1986 ICJ 14
(4) Filartiga v. Pena-Irala, 630 F.2d 876 (2d Cir. 1980)
(5) United States-Import Prohibition of Certain Shrimp and Shrimp Products (“Shrimp Turtle”) DS58/AB/R (1998)
I still like this list a lot. But, on reflection I’d probably remove Shrimp Turtle in favor of an older chestnut like the Reparations Case given that earlier cases’ import for the field of international institutional law (I also wonder about Filartiga as the best read on human rights, and although I’m inclined to keep teaching it in a U.S. classroom, I can see the argument for a case like Soering instead).
Of course, I hold no monopoly on making these sorts of lists. So, I thought I’d get those of you prepping your own courses (not to mention students preparing to continuing their international law studies) to chime in with further suggestions. What cases would you say every international lawyer must read?