What is important in the evaluation of your essay is the quality of the argument and how well you write.

What is important in the evaluation of your essay is the quality of the argument and
how well you write. Papers will be assessed on both form and content. Form is how
well it is written: presence or absence of a proper essay structure, clarity of expression,
absence of grammatical and spelling errors, consistent and proper referencing. Content
includes the type, scope, and use of evidence (such as cases by the ICJ), and the use of
logic. Essays should follow the classical essay format: introduction, body, and
Each paper should use at least four academic sources (e.g.: books, e-books, journal
articles, judgments, advisory opinions of the ICJ, etc.). Beyond using four such sources,
emphasis should be on how well the sources are used.
The essay must be 8 pages (Double-spaced; 12 points; Time Roman font; normal margin
no smaller than 3.2 cm). Essays between 7 to 10 pages will be accepted, without
penalty. However, the quality of the essay will be evaluated. The essay must be fully and properly cited. We
recommend APA referencing style.

Topic: It would be difficult to overstate the profoundly important role played by the concept of
customary international law in the international legal system. In contrast to treaty law,
customary international law is universally binding on all states. It thus constitutes the
substratum of common legal rights and obligations of the entire community of states,
upon which their more particularized legal relationships (usually in the form of treaties)
are built. What is more, customary international law is an enormously powerful
normative concept in that it can have the effect, under certain circumstances, of binding
states which have not actually consented to its content at all. It thus challenges positivist
interpretations of the theory of consent. At the same time, it receives universal
endorsement as a valid and binding source of international law. Textbook, chapter five.
The following questions could help you in articulating your argument in the intended

▪ If customary international law is not written, it means that many states may
have not been involved in its creation. So why is this law universally binding?
▪ Given the positivistic nature of traditional international law, how are states that
have not consented to customary international law bound by it? Indeed, what
makes customary law universally binding?
▪ Article 38 of the ICJ Statute ranks customary international law as the second
source of international law. Why then, does customary contravene the consent
of states?
▪ If customary law is a normative concept, does it mean that all norms practiced by
states in the modern time contributed to this kind of law?