Law of International Organisations

Subject LAWS90047 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

June, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start 18-May-2016
Teaching Period 15-Jun-2016 to 21-Jun-2016
Assessment Period End 14-Sep-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 23-May-2016
Census Date 15-Jun-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 05-Aug-2016

This subject has a quota of 30 students. Please refer to the Melbourne Law Masters website for further information about the management of subject quotas and waitlists.

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 24-26 hours
Total Time Commitment:

136-150 hours

The pre-teaching period commences four weeks before the subject commencement date. From this time, students are expected to access and review the Reading Guide that will be available from the LMS subject page and the subject materials provided by the subject coordinator, which will be available from Melbourne Law School. Refer to the Reading Guide for confirmation of which resources need to be read and what other preparation is required before the teaching period commences.


Melbourne Law Masters Students: None

JD Students: Successful completion of all the below subjects:

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Applicants without legal qualifications should note that subjects are offered in the discipline of law at an advanced graduate level. While every effort will be made to meet the needs of students trained in other fields, concessions will not be made in the general level of instruction or assessment. Most subjects assume the knowledge usually acquired in a degree in law (LLB, JD or equivalent). Applicants should note that admission to some subjects in the Melbourne Law Masters will be dependent upon the individual applicant’s educational background and professional experience.

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

The Melbourne Law Masters welcomes applications from students with disabilities. The inherent academic requirements for study in the Melbourne Law Masters are:

  • The ability to attend a minimum of 75% of classes and actively engage in the analysis and critique of complex materials and debate;
  • The ability to read, analyse and comprehend complex written legal materials and complex interdisciplinary materials;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate in writing a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and to critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate orally a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to work independently and as a part of a group;
  • The ability to present orally and in writing legal analysis to a professional standard.

Students who feel their disability will inhibit them from meeting these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact Student Equity and Disability Support.


Dr Guy Sinclair



Phone: +61 3 8344 6190

Subject Overview:

The actions and activities of international organisations have been much scrutinised in recent years. This subject will focus on the law common to international (inter-governmental) organisations in order to understand the complex legal framework which governs their work. It will critically analyse the features of such organisations in light of recent practice and case law, with a particular emphasis on issues that have arisen in the major global inter-governmental institutions (for example, the United Nations) and regional organisations (for example, the European Union and ASEAN). The subject will highlight recent controversies in international organisations to illustrate the application of the law to complex factual situations

This subject will be of interest to students with a desire to develop their understanding of the role of international organisations and the legal regimes which govern their work. Guy Fiti Sinclair is a Senior Lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington Law School, an Associate Director of the New Zealand Centre for Public Law, and the Associate Editor of the European Journal of International Law. Guy's major research interests are in the fields of international organisations law, law and global governance, and the history and theory of international law.

Principal topics include:

  • Historical development of international organisations and theories concerning the place of international organisations in the international community
  • Legal status of international organisations in international and domestic law (including legal personality, privileges and immunities, and law-making function)
  • The United Nations and related agencies (objectives, structure, membership and participation, decision-making processes, efficacy, proposals for reform)
  • Regional organisations, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region (for example, ASEAN), and their prospects for future development
  • The relationship between international organisations and other actors in the international community, including member states and non-governmental organisations
  • The accountability and responsibility of international organisations for their actions.
Learning Outcomes:

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Have the ability to critically analyse the historical development of, and the theories for, the establishment of international organisations
  • Have an advanced understanding of the principles governing the international and domestic legal status of international organisations
  • Appreciate the internal constitutional structures of the most significant inter-governmental organisations, and have the ability to evaluate the efficacy of these organisations
  • Have an extended understanding of the role of regional organisations, particularly the existing institutional structures in the Asia-Pacific region, and the relationship between regional and international organisations
  • Have knowledge of recent developments in the law of international organisations, for example, the responsibility of organisations for breaches of international law
  • Have the ability to apply the law to complex legal issues arising in international organisations.
  • Take-home examination (5,000-6,000 words as specified in the subject reading guide); due 29 July - 1 August (100%)
  • 10,000 word research paper on a topic approved by the subject coordinator; due 14 September (100%)

Hurdle Requirement: A minimum of 75% attendance.

Prescribed Texts:

Specialist printed materials will be made available free of charge from the Melbourne Law School prior to the pre-teaching period.

Malcolm Evans (ed), International Law (4 th ed, 2014, Oxford University Press).

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information:
Related Course(s): Graduate Diploma in International Economic Law
Graduate Diploma in International Law
Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies
Juris Doctor
Master of Laws
Master of Public and International Law

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