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Leiden University

International Law in Action: A Guide to the International Courts and Tribunals in The Hague

Leiden University via Coursera


International Law in Action explains the functions of each international court and tribunal present in The Hague, and it looks at how these institutions address contemporary problems. On the basis of selected cases, and through interviews with judges and lawyers, you will explore the role of these courts and tribunals and their potential to contribute to global justice.

The first module of the course will investigate how judicial settlement is different from other more political forms of dispute settlement, such as negotiation and mediation. It offers a brief historical overview and introduces the judicial and arbitral bodies based in The Hague. In the remaining modules you will learn about the functions of these courts and tribunals, and some of the challenges and prospects that they face. Three cross-cutting themes tie together all of these modules: (i) The interaction between law and politics; (ii) The continuing role of State consent; and (iii) The ability of international courts and tribunals to protect the public interest and global values.

This course offers you an opportunity to gain a better insight into the functions and features of the courts and tribunals present in The Hague. You will gain a familiarity with each court or tribunal. You will develop realistic expectations of their capacity to address contemporary problems and an awareness of their limitations. You will also be able to discuss some of their most prominent cases.

If you would like to have a better understanding of international law in action in The Hague, this is definitely the course for you!

This course is free to join and to participate in. There is the possibility to get a verified certificate for the course, which is a paid option. If you want a certificate, but are unable to pay for it, you can request financial aid via Coursera


  • An introduction to the International Courts and Tribunals in The Hague
    • Welcome to this first week in which we will enter the world of the international judiciary with you. We will discuss the evolution of international dispute settlement in our international legal order. The leading question is: why did people start thinking about creating international courts? We will also introduce the community of international courts present in The Hague today.
  • The International Court of Justice (ICJ)
    • This week we are going to explore the principle judicial organ of the United Nations—the International Court of Justice. This Court has dual functions as an institution that settles disputes between States, and as an advice giver within the UN system. We will explore the limitations that the Court faces in its fulfilment of these functions as well as its potential as an institution, particularly in the context of disputes involving the protection of the environment. From this week onwards, you will also be able to start working on the peer assignment. All relevant information with regard to the peer assignment can be find below. We look forward to reading how you view the future of the international courts and tribunals in The Hague!
  • The Arbitration of International Disputes
    • This week, we will explore the world of international arbitration. More specifically, we will focus on the Permanent court of arbitration, inter-state arbitration and investor-state arbitration. Through our videos, you will discover the history and characteristics of arbitration and you will understand how its functioning is impacted by the dynamics at play within the international and domestic societies. You will also come to realize the importance of public interests in the disputes settled through arbitration and you will learn how they are taken into account in international arbitration.
  • International Criminal Courts and Tribunals
    • This week examines a relatively new type of international courts, namely international criminal courts, with a focus on the ICC. We will discuss ongoing cases and debates, including sensitive issues such as the prosecution of sitting Heads of States. We will also inquire whether the international community is in need of a new dedicated international terrorism tribunal.
  • Conclusions of the three Course Themes
    • This week, we will directly focus on the three course themes that have structured our discussions in the previous modules: law and politics, state consent and global values. For each of these themes, the videos of this module will give you the opportunity to synthetize the knowledge that you have acquired over the course and to compare the various courts and tribunals that have been analyzed through the lenses of the course themes. The videos in this module will also offer you some concluding observations and insights which will stimulate you to continue to reflect on these three themes and the international courts in The Hague more generally. This week, you will also take the final exam of this course; good luck on this!

Taught by

Larissa Van den Herik, Yannick Radi and Cecily Rose


4.7 rating, based on 11 Class Central reviews

4.8 rating at Coursera based on 1093 ratings

Start your review of International Law in Action: A Guide to the International Courts and Tribunals in The Hague

  • Anonymous
    This course provided an excellent overview of the history and current function of the international courts and tribunals. It probably helps to have some background knowledge of law going in. The majority of the course material is short video lectures supported by readings that go more in depth.
  • Profile image for Luka Jerinic
    Luka Jerinic
    This is a very good intdoductory course for every aspiring international lawyer. I recommend reading the additional materials, especially the case-law as this really deepens your knowledge on the subject. I am currently taking the course in International Arbitration from the same provider, so check out that one as well.
  • Anonymous
    A well-taught, interesting, and enjoyable course. The interviews with ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and Judge Christopher Greenwood were especially enlightening. Larissa van den Herik, Cecily Rose, and Yannick Radi gave excellent and very understandable complements to them for an excellent course which I would highly recommend to anyone interested.
  • Anonymous
    I was very impressed by the presentation of the Course. It was detailed and thorough. It gave me the insight I was looking for. In addition, it gave extra resources to delve into post Course. I will definitely be taking the next related Course . Thank you so much all.
  • Anonymous
    This course gives to you an indept introduction on international law, the limitations and the highlight of what it could be in the promising future. The interview with the ICC prosecutor was also very educative, hence I'll encourage anyone willing to go for it.
  • Anonymous
    Clear videos, relevant information and critical analysis. I really enjoyed the interviews with the ICC Prosecutor and ICJ Judge. Decent sized readings and quizzes are not cumbersome.
  • Profile image for Alvaro A
    Alvaro A
    This courses gives you a basic knowledge about the International Courts with interesting cases and relevant point. Moreover, some of the extra materials are extremely useful.
  • Dawn D Shaw
  • Dingo Flunk
  • Emma Moretzsohn

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