This master's programme leads to different specialisations within the field of public international law. Students who choose to specialise must write a thesis on a topic within the selected area.
The Masters program in Public International Law prepares students for careers which require expertise on the function of the international system and its impact and relevance to the national system. Students attain in-depth knowledge of the sources of international law (treaties and customary international law), subjects of international law (identifying rights and obligations of States, IOs, NGOs, individuals), the institutional framework (UN, WTO, regional agencies, etc.) and dispute resolution framework (courts, arbitration tribunals, conciliation, as well use of sanctions and force).
Students address contemporary real world issues such as: how the rule of law is upheld at the international level, processes such as “internationalization of national law” and “constitutionalization of international law”, the perceived legitimacy dilemmas of the ICC, whether it is appropriate to use military force in counter-terrorist operations, whether it is possible to pursue state accountability for private acts of violence against women, what are the main challenges blocking progress in the negotiation of a international response to climate change, is it advisable to design a legal framework to tackle the emergence of environmental refugees, whether one can reconcile trade and non-trade values (e.g. human rights, the environment, and financial interests) within WTO dispute resolution proceedings, how arbitration tribunals navigate conflict of laws in commercial disputes, and how the Norwegian continental shelf is regulated in terms of petroleum contracts.
The PIL Program introduces students to the principal treaties and case law within international law and calls upon them to consider the context at hand in factual situations. In order to be able to apply their knowledge to contemporary problems, students are given insight as to the interaction between international, regional, and national jurisdictions, the impact of non-legal systems such as politics and economics, and the consequences of fragmentation of international law into specialized sub-fields. The PIL program has responded to the demand for specialized knowledge by introducing five main program options:
LL.M. in Public International Law
LL.M. in PIL with program option in International Criminal and Humanitarian Law
LL.M. in PIL with program option in International Environmental and Energy Law
LL.M. in PIL with program option in International Trade, Investment and Commercial Law
LL.M. in PIL with program option in Human Rights
Each program option combines a course on classical public international law with an obligatory legal writing course and one or more courses within a selected field of specialization. A wide range of elective courses comes in addition to the mandatory courses.
Many of the courses use cases from international tribunals and treaties as primary materials for analysis, complemented by theoretical textbooks and other secondary sources. Hence, students gain important skills in evaluating sources, researching, writing, normative analysis of text (assessing clarity, comprehensiveness, coherence, consistency, legitimacy, empowerment function, and implementation/enforceability potential), as well as some oral argumentation. They are encouraged to work in groups for case presentations, as well as develop independent analysis through the application of norms and theories to fact patterns. Further, students are encouraged to try out for participation in the Telders Moot Trial in Public International Law in the Hague, which additionally develop research, writing, and oral advocacy skills under the guidance of coaches. In 2012, our team won the competition. Finally, masters students complete a thesis under the supervision of an advisor, thereby pursuing a thorough exploration of a specific topic within public international law.
The competence acquired during the Master of Laws program may be characterized as centering on the pursuit of both critical and “law in context” perspectives when assessing the application of normative and theoretical approaches to both factual situations and broader concepts, such as the “War on Terror” or the “Rule of Law” at the international level. Students are encouraged to identify ethical challenges within the interpretation and enforcement of international law (e.g. use of sanctions, use of force in R2P, imbalances within trade regimes, etc.) They are able to communicate the evolution of international standards and theories in relation to contemporary situations. This serves to provide a foundation for the pursuit of careers such as serving as legal advisors in inter-governmental organisations (such as the UN, NATO, OSCE), non-governmental organisations, state administrative agencies and ministries, universities, companies and private law firms. Some graduates found the program served to further pursue an academic career, thereby moving on to complete Phds and become professors in their home countries. Although the majority of students in the program are international, the courses are open to participation by Norwegian students, thus broadening their perspectives as well.