Kathryn Sikkink Photo

Kathryn Sikkink

Ryan Family Professor of Human Rights Policy


Can international law be a tool for promoting global justice? In this class, we will explore diverse issues such as why the laws of war didn’t constrain the Russian invasion of the Ukraine and whether international criminal accountability for mass atrocity can deter human rights violations and satisfy victims?  How could reparations for slavery be delivered?  Can environmental law help reduce climate change and provide justice for climate refugees? Can trade law contribute to a fairer and more equitable trade system? Could better international health law mitigate a future crisis like COVID-19?  We will use a global justice approach to ask and try to answer these questions and many others. A global justice approach stresses fairness, political and economic equality of both opportunity and outcome, and accountability.  The central goal of the course is to familiarize students with analytical and policy tools to enable them to think and act critically when drafting, implementing, or responding to policies related to international law. We will examine substantive areas of international law such as the use of force and the laws of war, human rights, environmental law, trade law, law and indigenous rights, and international criminal law. The course uses cases, role-playing, and simulations to help students learn how to work with international law to promote global justice.