A Cuban Perspective on International Law

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As a member of the group of students and faculty who recently visited Cuba, I want to concur in all of the prior posts that expressed how fascinating it was to tour Havana, learn about some of the history, and in particular interact with the people. Prior to the trip, my only encounters with socialists had taken place in Berkeley, California and Eugene, Oregon, so I’d always associated the ideology with Left Coast stuff like patchouli and hemp shoulder bags. This was my first opportunity to meet and talk with genuine, born-and-raised socialists–people who think of Marx and Engels the way we might think of Locke or Smith. One of those people was Celeste Pino Canales, a professor of public international law at the University of Havana, who spoke with us about Cuban perspectives on international law and, afterward, allowed me to interview her on what it’s like to be a law professor in Cuba. A post about our conversation is available here.

 

The Study of International Law in Foreign Law Schools: A Brief History

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In my last post I provided a short history on international legal education in the United States. This time I offer the global equivalent: a (very) rough sense for the evolution of law school study requirements in a number of foreign countries, based on a combination of two UNESCO surveys from the mid-twentieth century and my recent research on contemporary practice.

Here are the results: Continue reading “The Study of International Law in Foreign Law Schools: A Brief History”

A Global Survey on the Study of International Law (Part II)

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Last month I put up the first in what I anticipate will be a series of posts on the subject of international legal education. I summarized the results of a global survey on the study of international law, reported that a majority of law students around the world must complete at least one course on the subject prior to graduation, and pointed out that the overwhelming tendency for American law schools to offer international law exclusively as an elective is fairly abnormal. In this post, I’ll explain my methodology and elaborate a bit on the data underlying my conclusions.

The methodology was pretty simple: I relied on a collection of official government documents, information available on the websites of university law faculties, and, occasionally, email correspondence with faculty members. Where this evidence established that a curriculum includes a mandatory course that on its face substantially implicates public international law, I coded the corresponding university as requiring international legal training. Inversely, I coded a university as requiring no such training where the evidence demonstrated that courses on public international law are elective or unavailable. Finally, I coded a university as “no data” if it has a law faculty but evidence of its curriculum was inaccessible within the confines of the research methods. For present purposes, the key point is that the numbers only reflect what I could find. This probably amounts to all relevant data for many states. But for others, particularly in the developing world, the data are less complete because not all universities have functioning websites and even those that have them often omit information about their curriculum. Continue reading “A Global Survey on the Study of International Law (Part II)”

A Global Survey on the Study of International Law

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In the United States, public international law is not an important part of legal education. By my count, only eight schools require their students to complete a course on the subject: Florida International, Harvard, Hofstra, UC-Irvine, Michigan, Nebraska, Washington, and Washington & Lee. Everywhere else, international law is purely elective. Insofar as relatively few students tend to choose this elective, we have a legal profession made up of individuals who lack formal training on topics like treaty interpretation, human rights law, and international organizations.

Is this common in other countries or another example of American exceptionalism? To answer that question, I conducted a global survey of the study of international law. The results, which are available in the form of an interactive world map at PILMap.org, show the frequency with which law schools and governments around the world require individuals to study public international law en route to obtaining a law degree. By clicking on individual states, you can look at summary statistics and details about the curricula of specific law schools.

Continue reading “A Global Survey on the Study of International Law”