Sara De Vido (Università Ca' Foscari Venezia)


From 15:15
to 16:45
From 15:15
to 16:45

Course description
The purpose of the course is to apply the notion of global governance to six different situations that are linked to peace and security, cooperation and development.
The course will start with a general part providing a brief overview of some traditional notions of international law, such as State and “international community”, in order to understand how this community has developed over the centuries, facing the challenges posed by globalization. The analysis of new actors, such as international organizations at the turn of the 20. century, “networks” established after the most recent financial crisis, non-state actors, NGOs and transnational corporations will allow the students to reflect on the current meaning of the “community of nations”, and of its law, “the law of the nations”. How is the global governance of these days different from the community of States emerging after Westphalia in 1648?

The course will then delve into several aspects: the first one is the prohibition of international crimes. In that respect, students will analyse the evolution of international criminal law from Nuremberg and Tokyo Tribunals to the International Criminal Court (ICC), also focusing on jurisprudence, which will be topic of discussion in class.
Secondly, the course will focus on the prohibition of the use of force. How has this principle developed in international law? The students will explore some of the most recent crises regarding the prohibition of the use of force, including Syria. We will discuss about peace keeping and peace building operations. We will also comment on the evolution of the current international situation.
The third aspect concerns transnational crimes (which consist in a different concept if compared to international crimes), such as international terrorism, money laundering, corruption, human trafficking, illicit trafficking of cultural property, environmental degradation. The analysis will show the main characteristics of those crimes and, following the interest of the students, will concentrate on two or three crimes.
The study of global governance cannot exclude international human rights law. The protection of human rights is an essential element of peace and development, and it will be the fourth aspect in the analysis of global governance. We will discuss about the different systems of protection of human rights, with specific regard to the rights of minorities, LGBT rights, migrants’ rights.
As fifth aspect, the course will focus on cooperation and development, starting from the analysis of the UN General Assembly Declaration of 1986 on the right to development to the affirmation of this right in customary international law.
As sixth aspect, we will deal with environmental and climate change law, analysing whether we can confirm the existence of a right to a healthy environment in international law. We will discuss in class some interesting decisions taken by international, regional and domestic courts, including the Urgenda case, which has been recently published by the Supreme Court of the Netherlands. Students will be encouraged to reflect on the evolution of the so-called rights of the nature.

Methodology: the course will include lectures, seminars and the projection of a documentary on international crimes. During the seminars, the students are invited to prepare the readings related to the topic (readings can be documents, judgments, short papers). Students will choose topic A or B. The purpose is to discuss the topic during an open debate once a week or once every two weeks. Classroom interaction is encouraged. Students are invited to propose issues that have been raised in their country of origin. The week before the scheduled seminar, the lecturer will provide the students a list of questions related to the readings in order to guide the analysis and the debate.

The course will be structured into a first unit on the notion of globalization and global governance, and then into six units each of them dealing with a specific aspect linked to peace and security, cooperation and development:


From the community of States to a globalized world. Sources of international law and new actors (individuals, transnational corporations, NGOs, non-State entities). The concept of globalization and global governance. Which are the main differences considering the concept of community of States in the Westphalia system?
Discussion of different perspective and theoretical approaches regarding international law.


The fight against international crimes: From the Nuremberg and Tokyo Tribunals to the International Criminal Court – some examples of the jurisprudence will be analysed, including the recent case on a conviction for destruction of cultural heritage. The importance of international cooperation.

Seminar with discussion in class. The Nazi Legacy on the Nuremberg trials.


The prohibition of the use of force. Article 2.4 of the UN Charter. The authorization to the use of force by the UN Security Council. Some examples from the practice: Iraq, Libya, Syria. The responsibility to protect.
The prohibition of the use of force. Peace keeping and peace building operations. Their legal basis.
Discussion on current crises at the international level.


The fight against transnational criminality: international terrorism (in particular the case of ISIS), money laundering, corruption, human trafficking, illicit trafficking of cultural property, environmental degradation. Why do these crimes affect security? The importance of international cooperation and the legal mechanisms to fight those crimes.

Seminar with discussion in class. Read the report of the UN Commission of Inquiry for Syria. The report will be divided into three parts given to three different groups of students.
Seminar with discussion in class. Human Trafficking.

Environmental degradation and multinational corporations. The Kiobel case.


The protection of human rights to promote security. Existing mechanisms to protect human rights.

Seminar with discussion in class. Analysis of a judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (the class will decide the topic of the judgment).


Cooperation and development. The right to development starting from Declaration of the UN General Assembly A/RES/41/128 to the consolidation of the core norm. The external dimension of the right to development. Is the protection of culture a way to enhance development?
The protection of cultural heritage of indigenous people.

Search the website of the UNESCO in order to find tangible or intangible cultural heritage of your country of origin. Discussion in class.


Environmental law and climate change litigation. Environmental law and human rights, right to a healthy environment. Does the nature have “rights”?

Comparison of the perception of environmental concerns in different countries. How is this topic dealt with in your country of origin?


10 % participation during seminars (debate, analysis of the documents, etc.)
30% Mid-term assessment: discussion in class and participation to the analysis of the judgments.
60 % Final assessment: a paper (around 5000 words, footnotes included) on one or more cases pertaining to a specific topic at their choice. The topic must be notified to the professor, who will assess the compatibility with the course.



Compulsory for the exam (along with the slides):

1. Y. Onuma, “Multicivilizational International Law in the Multi-Centric 21. Century world” (Moodle).
2. study the definitions “courts” and the following crimes: crimes against humanity, war crime, genocide, aggression. Plus the paper written by the ICRC
3. Climate change litigation database
4. C. Stone, “Should trees have standing?”, Southern California Law Review, 1972, pp. 450-501.


Chapters taken from N. Boyster, R. J. Currie, Routledge Handbook of Transnational Criminal Law, Routledge, 2015.
V. Mitsilegas, P. Alldridge, L. Cheliotis, Globalisation, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, Hart publishing, 2015.
O. De Schutter, International Human Rights Law, Cambridge University Press, 2.ed., 2014, part I and III.
A. Gallagher, The International Law of Migrant Smuggling, Cambridge University Press, 2014.
E. Brems, A. Timmer, Stereotypes and Human Rights Law, Intersentia, 2016.
C. Stone, Should Trees Have Standing? Law, Morality, and the Environment, 3.ed., Oxford University Press, 2010.
P. Sands, East West Street, East West Street: On the Origins of ‘Genocide’ and ‘Crimes Against Humanity’, Alfred A. Knopf, 2016.



Isola di San Servolo
30133 Venice,

phone: +39 041 2719511
fax:+39 041 2719510

VAT: 02928970272