Course Title: International Law for Development

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: International Law for Development

Credit Points: 12.00

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies

Face-to-Face or Internet

Sem 1 2015

Course Coordinator: A/Prof Paul Battersby

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 2308

Course Coordinator Email:

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Familiarity with development theory and notions of international or global society would be an advantage.

Course Description

This course is designed to introduce you to the intricacies of international law and the relevance of international legal instruments to development practice. In international development settings you must grapple with the immediate demands of aid delivery while at the same time strive to uphold humanitarian principles even where both objectives appear to be in conflict. As a practitioner, you must also learn to navigate through the sensitive interface between national laws and international humanitarian law. This course examines the essential features of key international legal documents, from the Universal Declaration to The Hague and the Geneva Conventions, the Law of the Sea, transnational crime conventions, biodiversity treaties and other environmental laws. It then goes on to analyse the application of these laws in developed and developing countries. You will explore how the dynamics of interstate relations frequently confound international norms and how the uncomfortable expediencies of conflict and post-conflict environments often compel development professionals to act unlawfully.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

You will develop a critical awareness of the relevance of international law to development practice and learn how to apply ethical and legal reasoning to the management of international development programs. You will be more confident in their organizational decision-making especially where this involves the application of humanitarian principles. You will also develop sensitivity to importance of gender and culture in the interpretation and application of international legal principles.


Upon successful completion of the course you will be able to:

• critically examine the many connections between international law and development practice

• read and interpret international law documents from a development practitioner perspective

• present arguments and analyses in a rigorous scholarly form including but not confined to academic essays and background papers

• research, present and debate matters of international law and development practice in a manner respectful of alternative points of view and which encourages inclusive deliberation

Overview of Learning Activities

Seminars and workshops provide opportunities for you to explore international legal documents and experiment with drafting and redrafting international laws, working principles and guidelines to gain a more practical appreciation of the obstacles to the implementation of humanitarian principles in different development settings. Seminars will include presentations by professional lawyers and development workers active in the humanitarian law field.

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems.

Overview of Assessment

Assessment will encompass both formative and summative exercises. Formative assessment will include structured debates on matters of law and legal principle, scenario analysis and the critical analysis of prominent legal cases involving alleged war crimes, corrupt and criminal dealings in business, and unlawful behaviour within the development community.

Summative assessment will include a formal academic essay and “paper chase” involving research into a series of related and relevant legal cases spanning national and international law, judicial decision and precedents.

If you have a long term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or the Disability Liaison Unit if you would like to find out more.

Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies, procedures and instructions which are available for review online: