International law and science

A.Y. 2019/2020
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The Couse aims at providing students with an understanding of the relationship between international law and science and with the capacity to critically assess whether: a question should be considered just as legal or as mixed problem of law and fact; when a scientific expertise is required to settle international legal disputes.
Expected learning outcomes
By the end of this course, students will be able to: have knowledge of the procedural rules and mechanisms provided for by international courts and tribunals in order to deal with scientific matters; - acquire communication skills (written and oral) as regards the issues dealt with in the course and use them also to argue with logical and legal thoroughness and propriety of legal language. It is hoped that students will leave the course equipped with a skill set that is easily transferable and applicable to whichever career path they choose to pursue.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
Course syllabus
On the one hand, progress in science raises problems that were not addressed before by international law (the access, for example, to some medical treatment or to reproductive technologies shed new lights on the potential problems arising from the balance between human rights and public interests; the same reasoning may extend to the possibility offered by the improvement of new techniques to collect data; similar problems regarding the balancing of potentially conflicting interests also arise in the context of environmental law as regards for example legal limits to the exploitation of natural resources). The question whether international rules may provide effective responses to problems and challenges posed by advancements in science and technology will be the object of the first part of the Course.
On the other hand, the increasing number of international rules that make reference to scientific notions (e.g. norms included in the UNCLOS Convention, which use a significant number of terms drawn from the vocabulary of science or the Whaling Convention, that, in principle, permits, under strict conditions, the killing of whales for scientific research purposes) poses new challenges to judges required to pronounce on their interpretation and application. In recent times, several disputes brought before the international courts and tribunals have touched upon scientific evidence and highly technical matters. The way how international judges operate whenever they meet science, with a particular reference to the role of experts, will be addressed during the second part of the Course.
Prerequisites for admission
Knowledge of international law and good command of English language.
Teaching methods
Course attendance is mandatory, meaning that students will be required to attend at least 75% of classes.
The course is structured on lectures. Discussion of assigned readings on specific topics and case studies will be organized as a part of the activities for more in-depth coverage of selected controversial issues. The detailed programme and all the materials for the course, including the .ppt presentations used by the teacher at class, and for the final exam will be delivered at class and will be also uploaded on the Ariel web-platform of the University of Milan.
Teaching Resources
T. Treves, Law and Science in the Interpretation of the Law of the Sea Convention, in Journal of International Dispute Settlement, Vol. 3, No. 3 (2012), pp. 483-491 doi:10.1093/jnlids/ids012; C. Foster, Science and the Precautionary Principle in International Courts and Tribunals. Expert Evidence, Burden of Proof and Finality, Cambridge, 2011. Further readings will be suggested during the course.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Students will be evaluated upon: their active participation to the course and to the activities that form an integral part of it (40%), the marks obtained in the written exam (40%) and in the final oral assessment (20%).
IUS/13 - INTERNATIONAL LAW - University credits: 6
Lessons: 42 hours
Professor: Ragni Chiara