2016 Course Descriptions

Commercial and Investment Arbitration

The first term of this course gives an overview of the arbitration process.  It will explore the Federal Arbitration Act and a number of recent issues in how arbitration is structured and operates in the U.S.  The course will then discuss a number of legal issues relating to the arbitration rules of several of the most important international institutions administering cross-border commercial arbitrations, including the UN Commission of International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), and the American Arbitration Association (AAA).  The course will explain the main features of each body of rules; compare the rules, including the extent to which they are based on civil law or common law traditions, or reflect a combination of both; and consider how they impact on the conduct and outcome of arbitration cases.  The second term of the course will explore the procedural aspects of investment arbitration, and in particular arbitration before the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). The course will also explore controversies surrounding case-law rendered by investment arbitral tribunals. Investment arbitration has become one of the most dynamic field of dispute settlement at the international level. It is subject to more and more debate in different regions of the world, and in particular Africa and Europe where new types of mechanisms are being discussed. The course will explore current challenges facing the investment arbitration system and means to improve it.

Taught by Metzloff and Mbengue/Kleiner

Comparative Corporate Law

This course will examine the governance of large corporations from a comparative perspective. We will consider how companies are directed and controlled in the United States, the United Kingdom and Continental Europe. After an introduction to the theoretical foundations of corporate law, we will compare ownership structures and the organization of the corporate board. We will then discuss current issues in corporate governance such as executive compensation and the involvement of shareholders and institutional investors in corporate-decision making as well as social corporate responsibility.

Taught by Bahar and Krawiec

International Human Rights Law

The first term of this course will explore the international legal framework in place to protect human rights within the context of family law. The course will look at some of the international organizations (e.g. the U.N., the Hague Conference on Private International Law) and treaties (e.g., U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child), as well as regional organizations (e.g., Council of Europe, EU) and instruments that help protect families and children. National courts and institutions and their part will also be examined.  The course will emphasize the role played by private international law in protecting families and children cross-border.  The intersection of human rights and religion in family law will also be explored. Areas of concentration will include the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the several Hague family law conventions (Parental Abduction, Child Protection, and Intercountry Adoption). The class will explore the cutting edge developments in the jurisprudence of the Hague Child Abduction Convention and the role of regional European instruments to secure human rights; the role of the Hague Child Protection Convention in protecting children crossing borders, refugees, and human trafficking; the role of religion and tensions with human rights in the family law context, as for example in the area of forced marriage, child custody, and unmarried couples. Current initiatives underway at the Hague Conference on Private International Law including in the area of crossborder surrogacy serve as case studies to examine the intersection of private international law and substantive law, public law and private rights, and the ways that private international law can shape and support underlying human rights.  The second term will offer a panorama of the monitoring and enforcement of human rights law at the universal and regional levels. The history of the emergence of human rights law at the international level will be first recalled as well as the specificities of this international law branch. The three generations of human rights, i.e. civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights and third generation rights will be addressed. The various human rights monitoring mechanisms at the universal (charter-based bodies and treaty-based bodies) and regional levels (Americas, Europe, Africa) will be presented as well as the procedural conditions under which individuals can seek remedies for human rights violations before these various mechanisms. Substantive legal issues that are common to human rights conventions at the universal and regional levels will be discussed, such as: What does the trilogy of the obligations to respect, protect and fulfil human rights mean? Are non-state actors bound by human rights law? Can human rights treaties apply extraterritorially? Can human rights be limited or suspended in emergency situations? Does human rights law apply in armed conflicts? What is the difference between human rights law and humanitarian law? Some fundamental human rights such as the right to life, the prohibition of torture, the right to liberty and judicial guarantees will also be addressed.

Taught by Teitz and Gaggioli/Kolb

Introduction to American Law

This course is intended to provide an introduction to essential elements of the American legal system.  Emphasis will be placed on exploring contemporary problems in American law that reveal key issues and concerns within the American legal system.  The first term of the course will focus initially on U.S. Constitutional law and then on the U.S. litigation system.  The course will consider the role that the U.S. Constitution plays in the United States and the challenges inherent in interpreting and applying it.  Specific constitutional problems will include a focus on recent  Supreme Court cases involving affirmative action and privacy rights, as well as a series of issues involving the First Amendment.  The second term of the course will focus on one of the most distinctive elements of U.S. law - contract law - and use some of the classic contracts cases to talk not only about contract doctrine, but also about how the U.S. Court system is structured in terms of state and federal courts operating simultaneously and the particular version of common law jurisprudence that is applied in domestic contract law cases.

Taught by Metzloff and Gulati

Introduction to International Taxation

This course will begin with a general exploration of income tax concepts, with a focus on the American income tax.  It will then identify some of the special problems that arise in international business and investment contexts, in which two or more nation-states have plausible claims to tax jurisdiction over the same income amounts.  In the first two weeks, the focus will be on the U.S. response to these challenges.  In the second two weeks, the focus will shift to international tax treaties as a means of relief of double taxation.  The course will also examine various other challenges to the integrity of the international tax system, including harmful tax competition, transfer pricing, and base erosion/profit sharing.  The second half of the course will conclude with an introduction to comparative taxation, examining the approaches of different countries to the problem of appropriately taxing income of families.

Taught by Schmalbeck and Folger

Responding to Terrorism: Different Perspectives of Applicable Law

This course will discuss legal issues regarding the use of force in response to acts of terrorism, the detention, treatment, and prosecution of alleged terrorists, and surveillance of suspected terrorists.  The first term of the course will discuss, from the American perspective, legal issues regarding targeted killings by drone, surveillance of suspected terrorists, and the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of alleged terrorists.  It will include discussion of the United States congressional statutes and case law, and the American interpretation of applicable international law.  Specific attention will be given to the constitutional sharing of war powers between the President and the Congress, the choice of the "war paradigm" by the Bush and Obama administrations, the concept of "unlawful enemy combatants", the United States' rationale for detaining those captured on the battlefield at Guantanamo Bay, Supreme Court and lower court decisions regarding Habeas Corpus rights of those detained, and the history and use of military commissions for prosecuting those who have committed violations of the law of armed conflict.  The second term of the course will introduce students to the international legal frameworks applicable to the use of force, detention, treatment, and prosecution of alleged terrorists, with differences and commonalities between the European and American perspectives of the applicable law emphasized.  The issues will be analyzed through the prism of the law of the UN Charter (jus ad bellum), international humanitarian law (IHL or the laws of war/law of armed conflicts or jus in bello), international human rights law, and of their interplay.  The case law of the European Court of Human Rights that is directly relevant to the fight against terrorism will be discussed.  Specific attention will be given to the circumstances under which a State may resort to force to combat terrorism abroad and to the nature of the "fight against terrorism" as an armed conflict or not.  Legal concepts such as international and non-international armed conflicts and civilians versus combatants will be clarified.  The rules and controversies regarding the targeting of individuals and the required procedural guarantees and rules on the treatment of detained enemies will be discussed.

Taught by Silliman and Gaggioli


Studying at the Duke-Geneva Institute was an amazing experience which not only broadened by academic horizons, but also gave me a chance to meet other students and lawyers from all over the world. Learning about other law systems and cultures in such a setting is invaluable. I left Geneva with unforgettable memories, great friendships, and a desire for further study abroad. My one regret is that the Institute was only a month long.”

—Roi Bejerano, participant from Israel