• Offered by Law School
  • ANU College ANU College of Law
  • Course subject Laws
  • Areas of interest Law

Ethno-political conflicts are, of course, a permanent feature of history, but the end of the Cold War has exacerbated this problem, bringing about new secessionist aspirations and conflicts, as well as reviving dormant civil wars. Those conflicts, which are all too often disruptive of international peace and security, raise serious difficulties for international law.

The objective of this course will be to provide a detailed analysis of the international norms applicable in this field (including, but not limited to, self-determination, secession, State succession and recognition); to enquire whether international law can provide satisfactory remedies for those conflicts; and to ask what are, if any, the legal gaps in this field.

Beyond its theoretical framework this course will adopt a “practical” approach by examining a large number of case studies, including current events in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Mali, Sudan, Palestine and other places. This will permit participants to learn more about the roots and the outcomes of some important ethno-political conflicts around the world and to find out how international organisations deal with these crises, and the effectiveness of the different strategies used for diffusing violent situations and resolving ethno-political conflicts. At the conclusion of this course students will have a sound knowledge of the legal principles and rules applicable in this field and will have a better understanding of how international lawyers and other actors ought to approach an impending or ongoing ethnic conflict from a legal point of view.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

On completion of this course, students will have:
1. A demonstrated understanding of how international law regulates ethno-political conflicts, both in theory and in practice;
2. An ability to reflect critically on the roots and the outcomes of some important ethno-political conflicts around the world, to consider how international organisations deal with those crises, and the effectiveness of the different strategies used for diffusing violent situations and resolving ethno-political conflicts.
3. An advanced knowledge of all the legal principles and rules applicable in this field and the ability to apply and/or explain how these principles sit within the broader international legal framework
4. An ability to engage in complex analysis of the international law relative to ethno-political conflicts

Other Information

This is an intensive course with 4 days of compulsory attendance required (see LLM timetable for dates).
Approximately 6 weeks from the completion of the intensive your final assessment will be due. Contact with fellow students and the convenor, both prior to the intensive and after, is conducted via the Wattle course site.

Indicative Assessment

The assessment is likely to consist of:
1) Time-controlled short answer test comprised of 4 questions covering the breadth of the course worth 40%, and
2) one research essay worth 60%

Students must rely on the approved Course Study Guide which will be posted to the Wattle course site approximately 4 weeks prior to the commencement of the course.

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


26 contact hours of face-to-face teaching over 4 days. The course will require advance preparation through the assigned readings. It is not anticipated that students will spend in excess of 120 hours on this course (class preparation, class time and assessment combined).

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed LAWS8182 Principles of International Law or (Juris Doctor and must have completed or be completing five LAWS 1000 or 6000 level courses and LAWS2250 International Law)

Preliminary Reading

T. CHRISTAKIS, “Secession” in Oxford Bibliographies Online (OBO: http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com) (This article reviews the literature published within the field, combining the best features of an annotated bibliography and a high-level encyclopedia. Features include intuitive linking and discoverability tools to quickly guide researchers out to the content cited. You will find all necessary readings for this course presented here).
M. KOHEN, (edit.), Secession: A Contemporary International Law Perspective, Cambridge University Press, 2006
ESIL IGPS Cambridge Symposium on the ICJ Advisory Opinion on Kosovo, Leiden Journal of International Law, 2011 (1), vol. 24, pp. 71-161.
T. CHRISTAKIS, Le droit à l’autodétermination en dehors des situations de décolonisation, Paris, La documentation Française, 1999 (for those who read French)

Assumed Knowledge

Students taking this course are expected to have a good knowledge of general international law. Prior completion of LAWS8183 Advanced Principles of International Law would be an advantage. Prior completion of LAWS8182 Principles of International Law is required.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $2958
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $4146
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Autumn Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
5758 02 May 2017 02 May 2017 12 May 2017 16 Jun 2017 In Person N/A

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