Researching International Law
International law is now a ubiquitous course offering at law schools through- out the developed world. Even in relatively recent times this was not always the case, especially in common law jurisdictions. As recently as twenty years ago, many law schools in the Commonwealth and the United States did not even include international law in their curriculums. By contrast, there is now an increasing trend to make international law a compulsory component of the basic law degree. It is also now a mandatory course for entry to the legal pro- fession in a number of significant jurisdictions (for example, China and India).
The rise to prominence of international law in the legal academy has occurred in parallel with the rapid development of technologies which facili- tate international travel, communications, financial transfers and economic production and exchange. Furthermore the end of the Cold War following the implosion of Europe’s totalitarian regimes in 1989–91 created a political climate much more conducive to international contacts, exchanges and co- operation. These developments have in turn magnified the international importance of issues concerning migration, national and public security, human rights, trade, investment, environmental protection and a host of other matters. The world is undoubtedly now a more closely interconnected place than it was in 1980.
In considering options for research topics in international law, the prospec- tive research student is likely to be spoiled for choice. Because it regulates pri- marily relations among states, the material scope of international law is co-extensive with the whole spectrum of international relations. This can cover laws regulating activities as diverse as international mail delivery to nuclear disarmament. Indeed, the emergence of international human rights