International Diplomatic Law - LW901

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
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7 20 (10) DR P Sullo







The module pursues two closely intertwined objectives: diplomatic law in theory and diplomatic law in practice.

First Objective: Diplomatic Law in Theory. This part of the module examines inter alia the establishment and conduct of diplomatic relations, the categories and functions of diplomatic missions, the legal position in international law of Heads of State, Heads of Government, Ministers and diplomatic agents, the diplomatic corps, status and functions of diplomatic missions, duties of diplomatic missions, diplomatic asylum, members of the diplomatic mission, diplomatic inviolability, diplomatic privileges and immunities, and the sanctions available in diplomatic law.

Second Objective: Diplomatic Law in Practice. In this part of the module, relevant case law and state practice will be examined and discussed in class. Moreover, students will apply rules and principles of diplomatic law to facts by solving (real or fictitious) problems (problem-based learning) in order to have a better understanding of diplomatic law in practice.


This module appears in:


Autumn Term

Method of assessment

90% of the module is assessed by an essay of 4000-5000 words by each student. Essay topics which may be drawn from seminar topics or from elsewhere with the consent of the convenor will be chosen by the fourth week of term. The essay will necessarily engage with a range of material drawn from the module as a whole and will demonstrate an appreciation of a particular aspect of Diplomatic and/or Consular Law. Assessment of student essays is undertaken in accordance with School Assessment Criteria which relate to the learning experiences envisaged as objectives of the module and also place particular emphasis upon the acquisition of relevant critical or evaluative skills.

10% of the module is assessed by a 20-minute seminar presentation, which either a student or group of students perform at a pre-assigned seminar. The presentation is made on the basis of assigned seminar readings and some independent research. Should there be a group presentation; the total time of the presentation must be divided equally between each group member; and each group member is responsible for the preparation of his/her own segment of the presentation. In the event that any group member fails to adequately prepare and/or contribute toward the group presentation, the module instructor may take what grading measures are appropriate in the circumstances

Indicative reading

Ph. CAHIER, Le droit diplomatique contemporain (Geneva: E. Droz & Paris: Minard, 1962)
L. DEMBINSKI, The Modern Law of Diplomacy. External missions of states and international organizations (Dordrecht-Boston-Lancaster: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1988)
E. DENZA, Diplomatic Law. A Commentary on the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 2nd ed. (Oxford: OUP, 1998)
I. ROBERTS, Satow's Guide to Diplomatic Practice, 6th ed. (London and New York: Longman, 2011)
E. KERLEY, 'Some Aspects of the Vienna Conference on Diplomatic Intercourse and Immunities', 56 AJIL (1962), 8-129.
F. MOUSSA, Diplomatie contemporaine. Guide Bibliographique (Geneva: Centre européen de la Dotation Carnegie pour la Paix Internationale, 1964)
F. MOUSSA, Manuel de pratique diplomatique. L'ambassade (Brussels: Bruylant, 1972)
B.S. MURTY, The International Law of Diplomacy. The Diplomatic Instrument and World Public Order (New Haven: New Haven Press, Dordrecht-Boston-London: Martinus Nijhoff Publlishers, 1989)
S.E. NAHLIK, Development of Diplomatic Law. Selected Problems, 222 HR (1990-III), 187-364.
J. SALMON, Manuel de droit diplomatique (Brussels: Bruylant, 1994)
E. SATOW (Sir), A Guide to Diplomatic Practice, 3rd ed. Revised by H. RITCHIE (London-New York-Toronto: Longmans, Green and Co., 1932)
B. SEN, A Diplomat’s Handbook of International Law and Practice, 3rd ed. (Dordrecht-Boston-Londen: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1988)
A. WATTS (Sir), The Legal Position in International Law of Heads of States, Heads of Governments and Foreign Ministers, 247 HR (1994-III), 9-130.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes will ensure that students taking the module will:
- Be aware of the significance of international diplomatic law in the conduct of international relations;
- Be familiar with the concepts, principles and rules of international diplomatic law;
- Be familiar with current theoretical and doctrinal debates within international diplomatic law;
- Be able to apply international legal methods to international legal problems
- Be able to place the principles and institutions of international diplomatic law in the context of international relations.

The module will contribute to the acquisition of the following generic learning outcomes:
- Processing information: organise, source and digest large amounts of material from various sources
- Analytical thought and writing: reflect upon complex ideas and arguments; digest, analyse and test scholarly views; relate scholarly ideas and arguments to issues and circumstances in contemporary international affairs; summarise and analyse scholarly arguments in writing
- Advocacy and defence: formulate an opinion in response to an issue or question, construct coherent and persuasive arguments to advocate one's view and defend that view against criticism
- Communication and presentation skills: prepare oral and written presentations of information and viewpoints to peers; respond to comment and criticism from peers; lead and manage group discussion
- Problem-solving: respond at short notice to questions and challenges, making use of knowledge, analytical tools and perspectives acquired in the module

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