LLM Programme

The taught modules offered on the LLM programme vary from year to year. Please check the full list of taught modules list for details of modules running in specific academic years. We make every effort to ensure that every module will be offered, but modules are subject to change and cancellation. You are therefore advised to check this site regularly for further updates throughout the year preceding entry to the LLM programme.

Credit value: 30 credits (12 ECTS)
Module Convenor:
Dr Danai Azaria
Other Teachers:
Dr Douglas Guilfoyle
Professor Roger O'Keefe


Treaties are a central means by which states and international organisations regulate their relationships under international law. The collection of the United Nations Treaty Series currently contains over 180,000 treaties, multilateral and bilateral, between states and between states and international organisations. These cover a wide range of subject matters, such as trade, investment, human rights, refugees, disarmament, the environment, the law of the sea, the use of cross-border watercourses, and boundary delimitation. Additionally, most international organisations, such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the European Union, and the Council of Europe, have been created by treaty.

The conclusion and entry in force of treaties, the observance, application, and interpretation of treaties, their amendment and modification, their invalidity, termination and the suspension of their operation, as well as succession of states in respect of treaties and the effect of war on the operation of treaties – all these fundamental issues, which arise in relation to bilateral and multilateral treaties of any subject matter, pertain to the law of treaties and form the focus of this course.

This course will provide an overview of the law of treaties, some rules of which are customary. It will examine the rules contained in three treaties:

  1. the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties between States;
  2. the 1986 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties between States and International Organisations; and
  3. the Vienna Convention on Succession of States in respect of Treaties.

The analysis will be put in the context of modern debates relating to treaties in various areas of international law, and will make use of literature, the work of the UN International Law Commission (‘ILC’), and international case law in various fields, such in relation to the WTO Agreement, treaties in the area of the law of the sea, investment treaties, human rights treaties, treaties on the protection of the environment, on natural resources, as well as treaties on international humanitarian law and international criminal law. The intention is to illustrate and to prepare students for the application of the law of treaties in different substantive areas of international law, and to demonstrate the specific challenges and developments regarding the law of treaties in diverse areas of international law.


The course is composed of four parts.

First, the course will explain the sources of the law of treaties and set out the definition of a ‘treaty’. It will then focus on treaty making and will demonstrate the procedure of concluding treaties: from negotiations to entry in force of bilateral and multilateral treaties. In this context, it will examine the making of reservations to treaties, as well as the obligations of contracting states pending entry into force of the treaty, and the treaty’s provisional application. In relation to reservations the course will deal with the recently adopted ILC Guidelines to Reservations to Treaties building on the relevant rules in the Vienna Conventions. Moreover, it will follow the on-going work of the ILC on the provisional application of treaties.

Second, the course explores the observance and operation of treaties. The relationship between treaties and domestic law, the application of successive treaties, the interpretation of treaties, their amendment and modification, and the relationship of third states to treaties and the relationship between international law and domestic law are examined. Particular emphasis is given to treaty interpretation covering the general rule of interpretation, the preparatory works of treaties as supplementary means of interpretation, and the on-going work of the ILC on subsequent agreements and practice.

Third, the course analyses the invalidity and termination of treaties, the suspension of their operation, as well as succession of states in respect of treaties, and the effect of war on treaties.

Fourth, four concluding seminars integrate the knowledge and skills acquired during the course. The role of treaty bodies in the treaty’s life are explored. A moot exercise concerning multilateral negotiations will take place, followed by a seminar on the role of the ILC in shaping the law of treaties, and a revision class.


  • Introduction – What are the sources of the law of treaties?
  • Defining the ‘treaty’
  • The conclusion of a treaty: Who has competence to represent the state for the purpose of treaty-making?
  • Entry into force, Duty not to Defeat the Object and Purpose of a Treaty, and Provisional Application
  • Reservations to Treaties


  • Observance of Treaties, Non-Retroactivity, Territorial Application of Treaties, and the Relationship between Treaties and Domestic Law
  • The Relationship between Successive Treaties
  • Treaties and Third States
  • Interpretation of Treaties: Mapping the Rules
  • Interpretation: Subsequent Agreements and Subsequent Practice
  • Supplementary Means of Interpretation: Travaux Preparatoires [+Mock Exam]
  • Amendment and Modification of Treaties


  • Invalidity, Termination and Suspension of a Treaty’s Operation
  • Reactions to Treaty Breaches
  • The Effects of War on Treaties
  • Succession of States in respect of Treaties


  • Treaty Bodies
  • Moot Multilateral negotiations: the UN Law of the Sea Convention
  • The ILC’s role in relation to the Law of Treaties
  • Revision

Background Reading (optional):

M. Fitzmaurice and O. Elias, Contemporary Issues in the Law of Treaties, (Utrecht: Eleven International Publishing, 2005)

J. Klabbers, International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2013) pp. 21-66.

Delivery and enrolment
Lectures/Seminars: 20 x 2-hour seminars
Tutorials: None
Previous module enrolments: N/A – This module will run for the first time in 2014/15
Who may enrol: LLM students, other UCL Masters Students
Prerequisities: None
Barred module combinations: None
Core Module for LLM specialism: International Law
Final Assessment: 3-hour unseen written examination
Practice Assessment: Opportunity for feedback on 1 mock essay examination


The application process for the 2015-16 academic session is now open.

Please note, for the 2015-16 intake, we are not accepting the TOEFL test. If you have an English condition to meet, you must take one of the alternative tests listed here instead.