International Law Curriculum

The UNM School of Law offers a variety of courses on international and comparative law. Since not all courses are taught every semester, students are advised to plan their schedules carefully to accommodate courses of particular interest.

Course Frequency Key

A = offered every semester
B = offered one semester every year
C = offered every other year
D = offered when student interest and faculty availability allow

Comparative Constitutional Law

Course Description

See Professor Kovnat for course description.

Immigration Law

This 3 credit hours course examines the multitude of issues involving the immigrants and the law. Starting with the historical origins of the United States immigration law, the course will focus on family and employer sponsored immigration, asylum, naturalization, exclusion, and deportation regulations. The impact of the US Patriot Act will also be explored. Beyond the substantive analysis, the course will address the practical aspects of working as an immigration attorney. Various guests will provide insights into topics ranging from enforcement of regulations to the immigration procedures.

International Criminal Law

Course Description

International Criminal Law examines the fundamental principles of this exciting, developing body of law. We will explore the rationale for ICL, the bases for jurisdiction, the procedures used to obtain persons from abroad, the offenses prosecuted as violations of ICL (including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide), and potential defenses to those charges. Throughout the course, we will study the charters and decisions of various international tribunals, from the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, the International Criminal Court for the Former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Court for Rwanda, and the International Criminal Court at The Hague. In particular, we will examine the provisions of the Rome Statute, which establishes the International Criminal Court.

International Business Ethics

This seminar explores business and legal issues affecting systems by which corporations are directed and controlled both in domestic and foreign settings. Addressing the subject in a comparative manner, students will examine the nature of officer and director liability, the role of regulatory authorities, models of corporate governance, as well as corporate culture, corruption, management and board compensation, conceptions of social responsibility. This course will pay particular attention to multinational enterprises (MNEs) control much of the world's productive assets, but there is no unified body of law that applies to MNEs. This seminar will examine the reasons MNEs exist, whether MNEs have a national identity, and whether MNEs should be regulated separately by each country they do business in, regulated by a single home country, or regulated by harmonized laws of all countries. Each student will select a corporation and examine its regulatory climate in its home country and one of its host countries in Africa, Asia, or Latin America. Students will at least one presentation with a short outline and will write a paper on a selected topic of at least 15 pages. In addition, students may elect to comply with the 3rd year writing requirement.

International Business Transactions

This course provides an introduction to transactional work undertaken by international business attorneys. The course focuses on international sales, and is taught based on realistic problems that clients in international transactions might have. Negotiating a business deal, role-plays, and other interactive techniques are used to show students what it would be like to practice law in this area. The course has a cultural component as well, through which students consider how local culture affects the way that business is conducted throughout the world. Enrollment is limited to 20 students, or more at instructor's discretion.

International & Comparative Family Law

How a legal system responds to the creation, dissolution and regulation of the family says a great deal about cultural difference. Increasingly, international frameworks are being developed to help address issues of child abduction, child support and adoption. This course will examine how international accords affect traditional family law issues. It will also compare how some countries address family law issues, such as marriage, divorce, custody, adoption, abortion, surrogacy and child welfare. Special emphasis will be given to U.S./Mexico cross-border family law issues.

International Environmental Law

Acid rain; trans-Pacific dust; persistent toxic substances; stratospheric ozone depletion; marine pollution; climate change; extinction of species -- many serious environmental problems are transboundary or global. This course will examine how international law and institutions attempt to address problems that are typically beyond any one country’s capacity to solve.

The course will explore a number of crosscutting themes, including the dynamics of international negotiations (and associated domestic processes), the role of “soft” and “hard” law, “North – South” issues, the role of non-governmental actors, and compliance. We may also examine extraterritorial application of national law.

Class participation will be a significant component of grading.

Background in international and/or environmental law is desirable, but is not a prerequisite.

International Law

What is international law and how does it relate to national law? How do treaties enter into force and how do they interact with customary law? What protection does the international community accord the dignity of individuals in time of war and peace? Does international law meaningfully regulate the use of military force by governments and other armed groups?

These questions lie at the heart of public international law. In International Law we will begin to address them by exploring the basic concepts of international law through a problem-oriented approach. The course will introduce students to sources of international law, states, international organizations and non-governmental organizations, international dispute settlement, jurisdiction, human rights, international humanitarian law, and the use of force. This is a three-credit course that is open to first year as well as second and third year law students.

International Petroleum Transactions

International Petroleum Transactions provides an opportunity to learn more about one of the world’s most interesting and controversial industries. The course deals with the laws and practices that shape the business of exploring for, developing, and producing oil and gas in countries other than the United States and the transportation and sale of that production in the world market. Along the way, the course surveys some of the typical petroleum laws of host countries, the extraterritorial effects of the laws of the home state of the multi-national oil company, and principles of international law that are applicable to issues in the petroleum industry.

More specifically, the course will examine the various ownership regimes used for mineral resources around the world; the international rules and practices governing the ownership and development of minerals within disputed territories; the rights of aboriginal peoples to mineral resources; the rights and duties of occupying military forces; the different procedural models used for the issuance of licenses and concessions to multi-national oil companies for exploration and development of petroleum resources within the host country; the basic forms and provisions of these international petroleum agreements; interaction with state oil companies; methods of, and legal issues affecting, international dispute resolution between foreign governments and international companies; the international law on expropriation and nationalization; contracts for joint operations among several companies designed to spread investment risk; applicable environmental laws and regulations, including the problem of disposing of offshore platforms; and international oil trading and shipping contracts.

International Water Law

In this course, a variety of transboundary water issues will be examined, including interstate, tribal, and international, with particular attention to the US/Mexico border. Students will have opportunities to meet with and discuss issues with a number of nationally known speakers. Several short papers will be required, and class participation will be important. There will not be a final. This class will not meet the writing requirement.

Introduction to Mexican Law

This seminar will discuss the structure of the Mexican legal system, law and legal profession. The focus of the seminar will cover those legal topics of interest to a no¬Mexican person interested in doing business in Mexico, such as contracts, commercial sales, security instruments, real estate transactions, business entities, labor law and tax law. If time permits we will briefly examine the criminal system of Mexico. Appropriate Mexican legal terminology will be discussed as it relates to the various legal topics. If there is sufficient interest a field trip to Juarez and Chihuahua will be arranged to meet with legal educators, law firms and judges. Final grades will be determined by examination or paper. The course may be used to meet the writing requirement.

Human Rights

Course Description

This course will examine the different legal mechanisms for the enforcement of international human rights norms, which have been established in various regions of the world. Particular attention will be devoted to three regional intergovernmental organizations: the Organization of American States, the Council of Europe, and the African Union. In studying the efforts of these regional institutions to implement human rights protections, the course will explore the extent to which the culture, history, and character of political oppression in each region are reflected in the various legal frameworks, that have evolved.

NOTE: Students who submit their seminar paper in fulfillment of the advanced writing requirement, for a total of 3 credits, will be expected to schedule an additional hour of independent study per week in addition to class preparation time.

Refugee and Asylum Law

This course will explore the evolution of both international and domestic legal protections for individuals fleeing persecution in their countries of origin. Starting in the international realm, students will study the development of the definition of a refugee and the norm of "non-refoulement," which prohibits the forcible return of individuals to countries in which their lives or freedom would be threatened. In discussing the form and content of international refugee protections, students will be asked to examine the fundamental inter-relationship between human rights law and refugee law. They will also address the potential conflict which exists between the principle of national sovereignty and the capacity of the international community to meaningfully prevent or respond to state repression.

The course will then examine the incorporation of international refugee law into U.S. law and policy, beginning with the interpretation by U.S. courts of the refugee definition, based upon the "well-founded fear of persecution." Students will also study more recent federal court decisions which analyze emergent issues in U.S. asylum jurisprudence, including conscientious objection to forced military service as a basis for asylum, as well as gender-related forms of persecution.

Terrorism and the Law

Two positions, or paradigms, have emerged which attempt to make comprehensive sense of American law and policy since 9/11/01, the civil liberties paradigm and the prevention paradigm. The prevention paradigm maintains that in the face of the current “catastrophic emergency,” the executive must be given wide discretion, e.g., to detain, interrogate, and try enemy aliens and citizens suspected of supporting or engaging in terrorist acts, without congressional authorization and without judicial review or supervision. The civil liberties paradigm, in its most expansive version, envisions that any derogation whatever from the model of the criminal trial subject to all constitutionally mandated procedures and protections for anyone in U.S. custody, in the U.S.A. or extraterritorially, will lead to severe and perhaps permanent corruption of our constitutional democracy. The question debated between the two camps is, what is the proper balance between security and liberty in the era of the global war on terror? At the international level similar questions are projected with respect to tensions between defense and security on the one hand and international law and human rights on the other.

Topics will include what is terrorism, terrorism and domestic civil liberties, terrorism and international law, impact of the global war on terrorism on domestic criminal procedure including investigation, detention and trial, immigration law, military law and international law.