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International Organizations, Law and Diplomacy Summer Program in Washington and Geneva
Geneve, Switzerland; Washington, DC, United States; (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Summer
This program is currently not accepting applications.
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Language of Instruction: English
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Globalization and the changing architecture of global governance pose many challenges to governments and to other international actors. These challenges require scholars and practitioners to rethink the nature of global governance in contemporary international society and to find new ways of understanding multilateralism, international organizations, and rules and practices. The Program on International Organizations, Law and Diplomacy combines legal, diplomatic, and social scientific approaches to the study of multilateralism.

The program will cover all aspects of international organizations, including political, juridical, security, economic, social, and cultural dimensions. The theory and practice of contemporary international organizations, law and diplomacy will be taught through courses, conferences, and experiential learning with international organizations in Washington and Geneva.

The summer program is open to participants from AU graduate schools, as well as to U.S. and international students from other academic institutions, officials from international organizations, and individuals working for governments or in the private sector. Successful completion of the requirements will lead to a Certificate of Completion. Matriculated AU students receive WCL academic credit; students from other universities should inquire at their home institutions about the transfer of academic credit. Participants have the option to enroll in the Washington or Geneva program and are encouraged to do both.

Visits to international organizations (such as the World Bank, IMF, and OAS in Washington) as well as substantive interaction with officials are important components of the program. The Geneva program is especially unique in that courses are hosted or have substantial activities in the headquarters of the international organizations themselves (WTO, WIPO, ILO). The program provides excellent networking opportunities as well as assistance in facilitating internships.


Note: The following is a tentative schedule of courses that may be subject to change. Courses with less than five participants enrolled may be cancelled.

List of Courses offered in the Washington portion of the Program:

The Law of International Organizations (2 credits)
-Professor Elizabeth Andersen

The activity of international organizations affects nearly every aspect of commerce, governance, security, and the health, welfare and quality of life of people the world over.  They establish standards, impose sanctions, and resolve disputes in areas ranging from trade to disease control, terrorist financing to airline travel.  What is an international organization? What are its powers? Where does it get this authority? What constrains it? This course will answer these questions through an introduction to the law of international organizations, including the law that governs their establishment, structures, authority, and responsibilities; the law that dictates their relationships to states and non-state actors; and their law-making functions.  The course will survey the core principles of international law that generally govern all international organizations, but also highlight the significant variance across the hundreds of international organizations in existence.  In-depth discussion of a number of case studies will illustrate the causes and implications of these differences in institutional design and capacity.

Law and Diplomacy in Regional Organizations (AU, OAS, ASEAN)
(3 credits)
-Professor Patrick Ukata, Professor Carlos Portales, & Professor Amitav Acharya

The purpose if this course is to provide a comparative overview of regional organizations in three different continents: Africa, the Americas, and Asia. A greater understanding of the theory and practice of contemporary regional organizations will be expected.

The Africa section will analyze the efforts by African states to manage their external relations through continent-wide and regional organizations. It specifically seeks to appraise the workings of the African Union (AU) and the regional organizations such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as they deal with political, legal, economic, security, social and cultural issues affecting their respective member states. The course also aims to deepen the student's understanding of the environment within which African states, whether at the regional or at the continental level, conduct their diplomatic relations with particular attention being paid to providing a good understanding of the actors, contexts and outcomes. We shall identify patterns of change, examine constraints, and give careful attention to some of the processes that influence policy outcomes.

The Americas and Latin America section will cover hemispheric institutions (Organization of American States [OAS] and the Inter-American Development Bank [IDB]), regional organizations (the Rio Group) and sub-regional organizations (such as the Southern Common Market [MERCOSUR], the Union of South American Nations [UNASUR], and the Central American Common Market [CACM]). The historical context, the evolution of state actors and the culture and processes of institutions will be analyzed. It will focus on four main purposes of cooperation: security and non-intervention, human rights, democracy and economic integration

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is one of the most prominent regional organizations in the developing world today. Established in 1967, ASEAN has undertaken extensive cooperation on economic, political, security and socio-cultural affairs among its members. Moreover, through its affiliated institutions, such as the ASEAN Regional Forum and the East Asian Summit, it brings together all the major powers of the world and plays the role of anchor of the wider Asian and Asia Pacific regionalism. As such, it plays an important role in the regional economic and security order of Asia, a region which is increasingly vital to world affairs. This section will provide an overview of ASEAN's emergence, role, successes and limitations.

The Law and Politics of the International Criminal Court
(2 credits)
 -Professor David Bosco

This course will examine the history, structure, legal foundations, and politics surrounding the International Criminal Court. Created in 1998, the ICC is potentially one of the most important international institutions. This course will examine in detail the diplomacy and advocacy that led to the court's creation. It will examine the structure of the Rome Statute and its contributions to international criminal law. The course will cover the campaign to achieve broad ratification of the Rome Statute before moving on to examine the court's early record. Key questions will be how the court selects and investigates cases and how it encourages states to enforce court decisions.

European Union Law, Policy and Diplomacy
(2 credits)
-Professor Fernanda Nicola

This is a basic course intended to introduce students to the law and institutions of the European Union (EU). The EU is an organization which began as the European Coal and Steel Community of six states in 1952, but which has greatly expanded in both its membership and the scope of its activities since then. There are currently twenty-seven member states with applications for membership pending from several others, including candidate states such as Turkey, Croatia and FYROM (Macedonia). The scope of the EU's powers, which are shared with member states in a set of arrangements even more complex than that of the US's 'marble-cake federalism', ranges from core market-integration and market-liberalization activities to the growing field of 'justice and home affairs' (including immigration, policing, criminal and civil law coordination) and even to aspects of foreign affairs and defense. The law of the EU, a complex edifice which has been constructed alongside and over the law of its member states, comprises a vast and detailed body of treaties, case law and regulation of every kind. For instance, in the aftermath of the European financial crisis there are newly created measures designed to reinforce the architecture of the economic and monetary Union while creating a new "fiscal compact" under which countries in the euro zone are bound to write a 'golden rule' on balanced budget into their national constitution with automatic correction mechanisms if the law is breached. Any introductory course will necessarily be very selective, and this course provides simply a first look at the EU. The course aims primarily to provide an entry point into the study of this unique political arrangement which, despite the various labels – superstate, federation, international organization – which are sometimes used to describe it, continues to defy ready categorization.

International Development Organizations (World Bank, IMF)
(2 credits)
 -Professor Luca Barbone

Class would meet Monday - Friday from 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM.
This course will provide an in-depth look at the modern-day architecture of international development organizations, and their prospective evolution. Starting from a historical review of the rationales for the creation of the IMF, the World Bank, and the major regional development banks, participants will have the opportunity to examine the evolving role of the international financial institutions (IFIs). The course will look in detail at some current important issues, such as: (i) the Millennium Development Goals and how they have shaped the IFI's agendas; (ii) the roles of the IFIs in the response to the Great Financial Crisis which started in 2008; (iii) the ongoing debate on governance of IFIs in the face of the changing balance of powers in the international community. The course will also provide an overview of the debate around the development models implicitly or explicitly espoused by different IFIs, as well as the critiques leveled by many parties against them.

International Organizations, Law and Diplomacy in Crisis Situations: Aggressive Force & War Crimes
(2 credits)
 -Professor Ryan Vogel

Class would meet Monday - Thursday from 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM
Over the past sixty years, the international community has given unprecedented levels of attention to the legal framework governing the use of force and belligerent conduct during armed conflict.  This focus has led to significant legal and structural change – from trials held in Nuremberg and Tokyo held after World War II, to creation of the United Nations system, and to the proliferation of treaties and organizations aimed at prohibiting and punishing unlawful force and war crimes.  However, in spite of the increased attention to this subject matter, many students, policy-makers, politicians, and practitioners have had difficulty making sense of the various sources and applications of the law governing the use of force and warfare, as well as the major actors and their roles in preventing, approving, regulating, and punishing belligerents' actions during an armed conflict.  This course will examine the international law governing hostilities and assess the role of international organizations and other actors involved before, during, and after armed conflicts.  Students will grapple with the same issues that continue to confront practitioners, diplomats, and policy-makers.

List of Courses offered in the Geneva portion of the Program:

Participants take 4 credits – 2 courses at 2 credits each. The course combinations are WIPO/WTO or ILO/Human Rights.

International Intellectual Property at the World Intellectual Property Organization
-Professor Sean Flynn

This course provides a comprehensive study of international intellectual property policymaking at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a specialized agency of the United Nations created "to encourage creative activity, to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world." The course includes comparative study of international treaties on intellectual property and WIPO's role in the formation and administration of these instruments. The course will cover contemporary debates around the role of intellectual property in development, including such issues as the impact of patents on public health, the transfer of technology and licensing, regulation of access to genetic resources, protection for traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, enforcement of intellectual property rights, and the role of intellectual property in the promotion of green technology and responding to climate change.
The World Trade Organization: Rule Making and Dispute Settlement
-Professor Padideh Ala'i

This course provides an in-depth look at the World Trade Organization (WTO) with a focus on the structure and internal workings of the WTO.  It will also provide an overview of the substantive areas of international economic relations that are covered in the text of the WTO Agreements.  The course will specifically look at the workings of the different WTO divisions, including the accessions and rules divisions, the workings of specific committees, the WTO dispute settlement mechanism (including the Appellate Body) and the WTO's Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM).  The course will also explore the relationship of the WTO with non-state actors and civil society groups (particularly those present in Geneva) and will explore relationships of the WTO with other international organizations in Geneva.  The program provides a unique opportunity for discussion and interaction with WTO staff, Appellate Body members, as well as WTO member country representatives and will be hosted at the WTO headquarters in Geneva.


 -- OR --

 The International Labor Organization: Decent Work Agenda
-Professor Claudia Martin & Professor Diego Rodriguez-Pinzon

This course will focus on the International Labor Organization and the multiple ways in which it promotes rights at work, employment and social protection. Much of labor legislation around the world is based on the principles and instruments that governments, employers and workers have agreed to in the ILO since 1919. Today this is recognized by the multilateral system as the Decent Work agenda. In addition to employment, social protection, rights at work and social dialogue (tripartite cooperation), a special look will be taken at the ways the ILO makes its unique standards supervisory system work. The course will also highlight corporate social responsibility and the way in which technical cooperation renders the Decent Work agenda operative throughout the world.
 Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law: Current Challenges
-Professor Claudia Martin & Professor Diego Rodriguez-Pinzon

This course will focus on current developments of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. The course will allow students to be exposed to the practical underpinnings of international human rights law and International Humanitarian Law in the Geneva scene.  Participants will be able to meet some of the main actors currently working in human rights cutting edge issues in Geneva.  They will have unique access to some of the most important actors in the United Nations system and civil society that shape the legal and political debate surrounding the UN Human Rights Council and its special mandates, as well as the work of UN treaty bodies. They will also have the opportunity to exchange views with experts from institutions such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, among others.  The course provides participants with a perfect opportunity to complement their interest in human rights and/or humanitarian law by providing the real-life experience of experts working in Geneva from several perspectives in this field of international law.

While in Abroad in Geneva:

Flights: Participants are individually responsible for purchasing air travel to and from Geneva.
Housing: The program fees include student housing.
Financial aid (for those enrolling for academic credit): Please be in contact with the WCL Office of Financial Aid regarding your status. Students must be enrolled for 6 credits over the summer to qualify (this means taking 2 credits in Washington in addition to the 4 you will earn in Geneva).
Visas: Participants who are US, Canadian, and Schengen Area citizens will not need a visa since the program will be a short-term visit. For others, please see the information here and a list by country here. If you do need a visa please make sure to contact the appropriate consulate and get it as soon as possible.

Computers: We strongly recommend that participants bring laptop computers as most of the course reading assignments will be made available online and exams will be taken online. It is also a good idea to bring a laptop lock as well as an adapter for Swiss electric outlets.
Dress: As our classes will be held in the offices of international organizations, we ask that students wear professional/business attire (keep in mind that the weather should be warm).


For general questions and concerns please visit the Summer Abroad FAQ page.

All other questions and concerns should be directed to:

Carlos Portales, Director
Marc LeBlanc, Coordinator
Program on International Organizations, Law and Diplomacy

American University Washington College of Law
4801 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016
Tel 202-895-4523

Tel 202-895-4530

Dates / Deadlines:
There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
This program is currently not accepting applications.