LAWPUBL 752 - Special Topic: Contemporary Issues in International Law

Lecturer biography

Treasa Dunworth is an Associate Professor with the University of Auckland where she teaches in the area of Public International Law, International Peace and Security, International Criminal Law and Disarmament Law. Her research interests include the relationship between international law and domestic law, issues of arms control and disarmament, and questions of accountability of international organisations. Her current research project is examining the humanitarian discourse in disarmament and arms control.

Prior to joining the Auckland Law School in 1999, Treasa worked with the Harvard Sussex Program on Arms Control and Arms Limitation and then with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (1995-1998) as a Political Affairs Officer. More recently, she has worked on a project with the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs examining international law issues involved in push to open nuclear weapons disarmament negotiations. She attended the 2017 United Nations negotiations for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as a member of the delegation for the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research.


This course will canvass a series of issues in contemporary international law debates. In doing so, it will encourage students to develop a critical understanding of the structures, institutions and doctrines of public international law generally. Care will be taken to avoid topics that may arise in other international law-related courses on offer to students. Thus, topics will likely include:

  • Contemporary issues in the use of force; including the ongoing war in Syria; UN peace operations; drone and cyber warfare
  • Making (and unmaking) of international treaties with a focus on; BREXIT, the TPP/CPTPP, the Paris Agreement; as well as the changing nature of international agreements and their negotiation
  • Accountability of international organisations; considering the increasing power of formal inter-governmental organisations along with judicial and other methods of holding them to account
  • To the extent that time permits, a study of some current (at the time of writing) disputes or issues including the Iran Nuclear dispute; the problem of sexual misconduct by aid agencies in relief operations; the plight of the Rohingya people and international (non)responses

Topics chosen for research papers are not restricted to what we cover in class together.


Students who complete this course successfully should:

  • Have a deepened understanding of the fundamental structures, institutions and doctrines of contemporary international law
  • Have a sound understanding of the legal questions arising from the different topics covered in the course
  • Appreciate the complexity and inter-linkages between a range of current issues in the international legal system
  • Have an awareness of the ways in which the international legal system evolves and develops

Course details

Semester: Two
Type: Intensive
Points: 30
Dates: 19-25 September 2018
Time: 9am-5pm
Location: Building 810, Room 3.40
1-11 Short Street
Assessment due date: 6 December 2018

Contact details

Postgraduate Student Adviser
Law Student Centre
Level 2, 1-11 Short Street