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The actions and activities of international organisations have been much scrutinised in recent years. This subject will focus on the law common to international (inter-governmental) organisations in order to understand the complex legal framework which governs their work. It will critically analyse the features of such organisations in light of recent practice and case law, with a particular emphasis on issues that have arisen in the major global inter-governmental institutions (for example, the United Nations) and regional organisations (for example, the European Union and ASEAN). The subject will highlight recent controversies in international organisations to illustrate the application of the law to complex factual situations.
This subject will be of interest to students with a desire to develop their understanding of the role of international organisations and the legal regimes which govern their work. Alison Duxbury is a Professor at the Melbourne Law School and an Associate Director of the Asia Pacific Centre for Military Law. Alison's major research interests are in the fields of international institutional law and human rights law.
Principal topics include:
- Historical development of international organisations and theories concerning the place of international organisations in the international community
- Legal status of international organisations in international and domestic law (including legal personality, privileges and immunities, and law-making function)
- The United Nations and related agencies (structure, membership and participation, powers, efficacy, proposals for reform)
- Regional organisations, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region (for example, ASEAN), and their prospects for future development
- The relationship between international organisations and other actors in the international community, including member states, non-member states and non-governmental organisations
- The accountability and responsibility of international organisations for their actions.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have the ability to critically analyse the historical development of, and the theories for, the establishment of international organisations
- Have an advanced understanding of the principles governing the international and domestic legal status of international organisations
- Appreciate the internal constitutional structures of the most significant inter-governmental organisations, and have the ability to evaluate the efficacy of these organisations
- Have an extended understanding of the role of regional organisations, particularly the existing institutional structures in the Asia-Pacific region, and the relationship between regional and international organisations
- Have knowledge of recent developments in the law of international organisations, for example, the responsibility of organisations for breaches of international law
- Have the ability to apply the law to complex legal issues arising in international organisations.
Last updated: 10 November 2023