• Offered by ANU Law School
  • ANU College ANU College of Law
  • Course subject Laws
  • Areas of interest Law
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person

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:

  1. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of how international law regulates ethno-political conflicts, both in theory and in practice;
  2. Demonstrate an ability to reflect critically on the origins and the outcomes of some important ethno-political conflicts around the world;
  3. Demonstrate 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. Demonstrate an ability to engage in complex analysis of the international law relative to ethno-political conflicts; and
  5. Plan and execute complex legal research with independence in order to critically evaluate how international organisations deal with those crises, and the effectiveness of the different strategies used for diffusing violent situations and resolving ethno-political conflicts.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Class Participation (10) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  2. Research Essay (6,000 words) (90) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]

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Classes offered in non-standard sessions will be taught on an intensive base with compulsory contact hours (approximately 26 hours of face to face teaching). The course will also require advanced preparation through assigned readings. In total, it is anticipated that the hours required for completion of this course (class preparation, teaching and completion of assessment) will not exceed 120 hours. Classes offered during semester periods are expected to have 3 contact hours per week.

Click here for the LLM Masters Program timetable.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be studying a: Master of Laws (MLLM), Master of International Law and Diplomacy (MINLD), Master of Legal Practice (MLEGP); OR Juris Doctor (MJD), have completed or be completing five 1000 or 6100 level LAWS courses and have completed LAWS2250/LAWS6250 International Law; OR Graduate Certificate of Law (CLAW) and have completed or be completing LAWS8586 Law and Legal Institutions; OR Master of Military Law (MMILL). Students undertaking any ANU graduate program may apply for this course. Enrolments are accepted on a case-by-case basis. Please contact the ANU College of Law for permission number.

Prescribed Texts

The prescribed text for this course is

  • James CRAWFORD, The Creation of States in International Law, Oxford University Press, 2nd ed., 2007. (Although this book is not a “textbook” and it does not cover all the subjects analysed in this course, it is one of the classic monographs of international law and will permit students to understand the basic rules governing secession and the creation of States).

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
  • J. DUGARD,The Secession of States and Their Recognition in the Wake of Kosovo, BRILL, 2013
  • C. WALTER (&al.), (edit.), Self-determination and secession in International Law, OUP, 2014
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.

    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.  

    Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
    If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

    Student Contribution Band:
    Unit value:
    6 units

    If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

    Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

    Units EFTSL
    6.00 0.12500
    Domestic fee paying students
    Year Fee
    2021 $4410
    International fee paying students
    Year Fee
    2021 $5880
    Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

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