International Law versus Political Science (Part II)

When I was initially researching masters programs, I was encouraged by a professor to pursue international law. I was unsure about whether my background in political science and criminology had given me enough of a foundation to study international law at a postgraduate level. My first consideration surrounded the fact that I’d be learning alongside lawyers. The second involved the divergence from politics and what seemed like a wild foray into the world of law.
It appeared to be a good choice. The law is secure. It seemed to be more practical than something like politics which is essentially based on theoretical concepts and is extremely changeable.
But in the few months that I’ve been immersed international law, I’ve come to realize that the subject seems solid but at times, it may prove to be useless in fact.
The issue becomes complicated when I look at specific case studies- states overlooking the human rights violations of other states, the Security Council churning out coercive resolutions that are acceded to by the international community, new nations who can barely organize themselves never mind try to comply with their international obligations…
It is so often that heads of states and other authorities will either manipulate the law or ignore it all together for their own interests. That’s politics.
Politics is about how people do act instead of how they should act (the latter being international law).
Do I think international law is useless? Of course not, it has a mountain of potential.
But the past few months of study have given me a different approach regarding the role of politics in law. Maybe it should have been obvious from the start but states do not always comply. But following that line, a lot of states do comply. Political science has helped me discern why and when they comply and do not comply. I can see how states do act along with how they should act.
I think I’ve learned a lot by reconciling my understanding of political science with what I’m learning right now. It’s definitely been very insightful and has contributed towards rounding out my knowledge about how the world works.

So many options, so little time…

I’ve attended a few modules, trying to pin down the perfect fit but they are all so fascinating, I don’t know which ones I want to pick. The downside to this is the copious amounts of readings that are required in order to keep up with the first day of class (which is in seminar format).
So far, the pool I have to choose from is:
International Human Rights Law
Public International Law
International Humanitarian Law
Regional Human Rights
Economic and Social Rights
Rights of the Child
Ultimately, I’ll have to pick four of these and this is proving to be difficult. Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law run for the whole year and we are assessed by a 3 hour long examination.
The course structure comprises of two terms that are both examinable in May. Some modules are assessed with essays while others require you to sit the exam. This narrows my options because, being a social sciences student who is partial to writing papers, exams are distressing to me.
I want to point out that I’m not a law student. While an LL.B. is strongly advised before undertaking an LL.M., it is not a requirement at some schools so long as your degree is in something relevant. For me, this was political science and criminology.
We also have to send in our preliminary decisions for the next semester too. I’m slightly disappointed that they aren’t offering a module specific to women’s rights but I know that it’s a subject that is bound to be covered by the other options. Anyhow, this is what the spring semester looks like…
Religion and International Human Rights
Minorities and International Human Rights Law
Rights, Humans and Other Animals
Imprisonment and Human Rights
United Nations Law
The trickiest part of choosing courses is that while my forte lies with minority rights, my criminological background has developed into a special interest for the justice system and incarceration. I decided to fore-go any of the criminal law classes that were taking place this semester in favour of classes that fit my chosen stream.
I’m also trying to procure a position with the Human Rights Law Centre (UoN has a very good one) as a student research assistant. I know I’d excel at planning their annual student conference but I really want to get out of comfort zone a little bit and branch out by editing their yearbooks and journal. I’m a research fiend so that may help.

Let’s try this again

They keep telling me to start a blog. They, meaning everyone. From friends to professor to career advisers.
I didn’t want to tell them how many times I’ve failed at creating this blog. My travels, for the moment, are shielded from the eyes of the internet (which isn’t always a bad thing).
Anyhow, they think it’s a great idea.
Perhaps it is, I’ve always visited academic subjects in my personal journals, so why shouldn’t I put it all up on the internet. At best, it’ll serve as motivation for someone else to become interested in the subject matter that I discuss and, at the very least, I’ll be able to review this before my exam.
So basically, I’m going to lay out a few objectives and take it from there.

1. First and foremost, I’m going to describe what I’m learning through my Masters in Law course and, when appropriate, apply it to current events and my own experiences.

2. I’ll talk about my integration into the United Kingdom educational system by examining my university to see what it has to offer myself and other students.

This is the third introduction that I’ve written for this blog. Hopefully, I’ll be able to take at least a little bit of time out of readings to actually write something.