• Admin

UPSC Law Optional Syllabus -International Law

Updated: Dec 30, 2019

This Blog Covers in detail law optional UPSC international law syllabus analysis. For Recommended book and notes for UPSC law optional to refer visit this blog (Link)

This post have been written on behalf of Aditya Tiwari sir after attending his lecture on same topic and have been reviewed by him before posting here. you can ask direct question from him at Quora (link)


Topic 1: Nature and definition of international law.

This Topic is very wide and requires understanding of International Law Definitions and its criticism. Learn all the major aur author/jurist definition such as Oppenheim, Whitman etc.

This topic also includes how international's law developed and Basis of international law. Different theories of harmonisation. there is always a question on how International's law is weak law. It is nothing more than international morality. Austin view and criticism has to be read specifically.

Then come to source of International law. Read only article 34 of ICJ which provides for different sources. There was a question of modern sources as well, meaning sources not referred in ICJ statute.


Topic- 2 : Relationship between international law and municipal law.

This topic is straight forward simply learn the different theories of relationship between Municipal and International Law. There are three major theories including Monoistic, dualistic and transformation theories. Go into detail of each theories and prepare notes for law optional mains examination about them.

Apart from above read the state practice adopted by India, US and UK needs to be studies. In case of India do read Supreme Court cases and what method they have adopted when International law is conflict with domestic laws. Like ADM cabal case where India have signed an Human Right Declration which provides for right against detention and it was in conflict with Order of magistrate jabalpur. Read how court solved the conflict.


Topic- 3 : State recognition and state succession.

It is a very simple topic, mostly one question is asked in law optional subject of UPSC. This topic includes understanding Meaning of recognition, Types of recognition. Generally there are two type de facto and De Jure recognition. Then read what recognition India follow as a state practice. Also read practice adopted by USA and UK. As sometime question is how Indian state practice differs from these two countries.

Then study what's the difference between recognition of government and recognition of State. Like Palestine is not recognised by US but it is still a state. Focus on how recognition is mainly a political act rather than legal. And in last study legal effect of recognition.

FOr ste secession simply read its meaning and how succession occurs. Then right and dudes of successor state with respect to property, contracts, treaties etc.


Topic-4 : Law of the sea: Inland waters, territorial sea, contiguous zone, continental shelf, exclusive economic zone, high seas.

This Topic is very specific and Requires Study of ALL United nation Convention of law of Seas (UNCLOS) . Read the exact provisions in that. These are very comprehension document but only read chapters in those related to our topic of optional syllabus. Read case law related to demarcation of these zones

UNCLOS have different chapters with heading matching our syllabus topic. Read those in detail each provision. Hardly there will 7 to 8 pages in total. There will be three things to study in that, Namely,

a. meaning of these (Inland Water, Territorial sea etc)

b. Extent of these waters

c. Right and duties of state and third parties in these zones

Then read topics with special reference to India. For that maritime zone act, An statute of parliament will suffice.


Topic- 5 : Individuals: Nationality, statelessness; Human rights and procedures available for their enforcement.

This topic needs understanding of concept of Individual in International law. It is only topic that require little understanding of Private International law, But only limited to individual rights in human rights law nothing else. Dont read individual property rights etc. Focus only on convention which grantees individual human rights and different mechanisms, like courts where they can go, What can be done by courts in pursuance of that. European Human right court is beset example of that.

For nationality, read different meaning of nationality, Uderstand the concept and different principle of nationality. What principle India adopts. Statelessness is related to refugees and asylum so combine this sub part with Topic 6.


Topic- 6: Territorial jurisdiction of States, extradition and asylum.

This topic includes understanding of meaning of jurisdiction in general, You must have studied it in constitutional law as well. Then understand why problem of jurisdiction occurs, like in case of transnational crime like hijacking, piracy for purpose of prosecution.

Then study different principle applied by state, there are two major principle active nationality principle and Passive nationality principle. Do read what principle India Adopts.

For Extradition and Asylum, Understand its meaning and component. Like Extradition have two component, Extraditable person and Etraditable crime. Also read major components of Extradition treaties. It have been in news a lot.

Asylum is sought once extradition process starts. Understand its meaning and international law reagrding it. Like what is the responsibility of state regarding human who is on the verge of being stateless. Human right Laws also have these provisions.


Topic -7 : Treaties: Formation, application, termination and reservation.

This is very straight forward topic directly relates to Vieena Convention on law of treaties (VCLT). The treaty document have Different chapters which can be studies provision by provision. Fairly simple to understand and those provision could be written directly in exam if there is a question.

Formation and application of treaty means, modes of formation and who is authorised too signed that treaty on behalf of country. What process a country follow to go into treaty under there domestic constitution. read especially with respect to India

Termination of treaty have almost similar ground as a termination of contract, there are few in addition like succession of states or dissolution of state etc.

Reservation is a separate concept needs to be studied in more detail as there have been direct questions on that, like what is the importance of reservations. There is a separate Chapter on reservation in VCLT treaty Document. read it


Topic - 8: United Nations: Its principal organs, powers, functions and reform.

Generally three type of questions area asked in this topic and those only those subtopics needs to be studied.

One involving the structural arrangement of United Nation as a whole, Membership, power function of UN and its agencies. But focus more on power and function of security council

Second subtopic involves philosophical on including does security council have overshadowed all the other organ, or reform needed in united nation. It current structure criticsm

Third subtopic involves India's Role in initiating reform and since independence how India have overall performed like its role in keep placing missions etc.


Topic - 9 : Peaceful settlement of disputes - different modes.

It is a simple topic and require undesrstanding of different modes of dispute such as arbitration, conciliation , judicial settlements etc. Not only you have to read about these meaning but also international conventions related to it.

Also read relative different in difference modes of settlement like why judicial settlement is more concrete than other modes. Read international forum for different modes of settlements, Like International court of justice (ICJ) for judicial mode of settlement of disputes.