Lesson 4: International Law


Grade Level



2 periods

Lesson Plan (PDF)


This lesson with introduce students to the concept of international law, dispute resolution and international human rights. Students will learn about the International Court of Justice, International Criminal Court and two International Criminal Tribunals (Yugoslavia and Rwanda).


By the end of this lesson students will:

  • Demonstrate a knowledge of the various international courts and tribunals used to resolve international disputes and justice claims.
  • Analyze and assess the effectiveness of select international courts/tribunals with respect to claims for justice, redress or reconciliation.
  • Understand the place of international law and dispute resolution within the larger framework of Canada’s legal system.
  • Learn about some of the most famous international criminal tribunal cases.

Focus Questions

  1. What is the International Court of Justice? How did it come to be and why is it important?         
  2. What is the purpose of the International Criminal Court? What are some examples of cases that are heard here?
  3. What is the meaning of “genocide”?
  4. What was going on in Rwanda in 1994 and what was the role of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda?
  5. How did the circumstances in WWII impact International Law?

Teaching Summary

Topics 1 & 2: International Court of Justice & International Criminal Court

Topics 1 and 2 are covered in Activity 1. Students will read Handout 1: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) and Handout 2: The International Criminal Court. They will use the information to complete a group exercise, webquest, and mock trial. For these exercises, students will also need Handout 3: People Hunt, Web Quest and Mock Tribunal and Handout 4: People Hunt.

Topic 3: The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

This topic is covered in Activity 2. Students will read Handout 5: The Tragedy of Rwanda. Students will then do research on genocide and prepare a brief presentation to the class. For the second part of the activity, students will need to read over Handout 6: The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and then watch the documentary Shake Hands with the Devil. There are ten questions for students to complete after the film.

Topic 4: The Nuremburg Trials

Students will read Handout 7: The Nuremburg Trials and will then perform a mock trial using online materials from Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre.