International organizations and sustainable development

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course aims at exploring in a legal perspective the role played by international organizations in sustainable development.
The course will deal with the law of international organizations in general, expanding on aspects that are not covered in depth in the International Law class and stressing in particular the ever-increasing role of the international organizations in the international law arena.
Building on the general theory, the course will deal with the United Nations and a number of international organizations active in fields that are of utmost importance for sustainable development (e.g. health, labour, environment, food, cultural heritage).
This course aims at providing students with a thorough understanding of the topics examined and a method of analysis apt to face the complex legal issues relating to international organizations and their role in the international legal order.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course, students are expected to acquire:
- a thorough knowledge and understanding of the role played by international organizations in the international community, with particular regard to sustainable development;
- instruments by which knowledge and understanding can be applied to practical (real or moot) cases;
- instruments by which judgments can be made and an autonomous opinion can be developed on legal issues relating to IOs;
- communication skills, in particular as to the proper use of technical language and terms;
- lifelong learning skills in terms of general comprehension of the interaction between IOs and international law.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
Course syllabus
- IOs and international law: historical development: The League of Nations
- The United Nations and specialized agencies.
- IOs and sovereign States: similarities and differences; in quest for a definition of IO; classification of IOs
- Membership: admission, withdrawal, expulsion, suspension
- Powers of IOs: principle of attribution; implied powers; powers of IO's organs
- Organs: plenary and non-plenary organs; policy-making and administrative organs; States' representation in organs; credentials
- Administrative organs: status and duties of civil servants; privileges and immunities; functional protection
- Dispute settlement organs: International Court of Justice (advisory and contentious jurisdiction); other dispute settlement organs
- Legal order: treaties constituting IOs; IOs' decisions and recommendations; treaties made by IOs
- Supervision and sanctions
- Legal status: privileges and immunities; headquarter agreement; responsibility of IOs
Prerequisites for admission
In order to attend this course, students should have attended a general course of Private law, Constitutional law and International law.
Teaching methods
Attendance is compulsory. Students will be required to attend at least 75% of classes to be able to sit the exam.
Classes will include an institutional part and a practical part. The latter will be focused on specific issues through the analysis of case-law and the study of moot cases. Active participation by students is highly encouraged and will be taken into account in final evaluations.
Teaching Resources
N. White, The law of international organisations, 3rd ed., Manchester University Press, 2016.
Cases and materials will be distributed during the course and are to be read in advance of each class.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Students will be evaluated on the following basis:
1. Continuous Assessment (25%)
2. Assignment (25%)
3. Final exam (50%)

1. All students are required to prepare before classes on the materials indicated in bold in the Syllabus (a detailed list is available at the end of this document).
During each class a number of pre-identified students will be on call, i.e. they might be asked to answer specific questions and/or comment on the readings listed in the Syllabus for that class. Any other student is more than welcome to intervene. This will form the basis of the Continuous Assessment

2. In addition, each student is required to prepare an Assignment, i.e. to present in front of the class a short overview of a given international organization: ILO, WHO, FAO, IMF, IBRD, ICAO, WTO, UNESCO, OECD, IMO, Council of Europe, UNIDO, COP (Conference of the Parties - UN Framework Convention on Climate Change), focusing in particular on the following aspects: history, members, purposes, functions, organs (composition, powers, decisions, binding decisions), implementation mechanisms, dispute settlement mechanisms, overall assessment.

3. The Final written Exam takes place at the end of the course. It consists of three open questions, that shall be answered in one hour time.
In light of the final mark obtained at the written exam, each student has the following options:
a) accept the final mark obtained at the written exam; or
b) not accept the final mark and take an oral exam (3 questions) on the entire course program.

The written and oral exams are aimed at verifying the acquisition by each student of the notions of the course and each student's ability to critically analyse and solve legal issues through the re-elaboration of the knowledge acquired and the evaluation of the cases addressed over the course.
IUS/13 - INTERNATIONAL LAW - University credits: 6
Lessons: 42 hours
Tuesday, 12,00
Sezione di Diritto internazionale e dell'Unione europea (formerly Istituto di diritto internazionale), ground floor