September 2019 - August 2020
Study Mode Full-time
Application start 19 November 2018
Application end 1 March 2019
Application end (with scholarship) 1 February 2019


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Course Catalogue

Introduction to the Islamic Law of Armed Conflict

Ahmed Al-Dawoody

This course introduces students to the Islamic law of armed conflict and how it relates to the current conflicts in Muslim contexts. It examines the rules regulating the use of force during both international and non-international armed conflicts under classical Islamic law. Classical Islamic rules providing protection to certain persons and objects and those regulating certain means and methods of warfare are examined in order to find out, first, the impact/challenges surrounding their application in current armed conflict situations and, second, their compatibility with international humanitarian law rules. The course also discusses the distinction between the use of legitimate force and terrorism (both domestic and international) under Islamic law. It analyses the development of the classical Islamic public international law framework and its impact on the issues of the Islamic jus ad bellum and the jurisdiction of Islamic law. The course starts with identifying and defining the Islamic law key concepts, sources, and schools in order to familiarize the students with such a complex and highly technical legal system and understand the extent of its contemporary application.

Groupes Armés Non-étatiques et Droit International

Annyssa Bellal

This course, delivered in French, focuses on the study of non-state armed groups in contemporary armed conflicts and how international law regulates their actions. Questions addressed by the course include: What types of groups fall under the scope of international humanitarian law and/or human rights law? What is the impact of counter-terrorism legislation on armed groups? How is humanitarian engagement with these actors possible, including with groups such as Islamic State or al-Qaeda? The course is based on legal theoretical analysis, while also covering key policy considerations.

Enforced Disappearances in International Law

Gabriella Citroni

This course examines the existing international legal framework and jurisprudence on the phenomenon of enforced disappearance. While the main focus is international human rights law, references are made, where pertinent, to international humanitarian law and international criminal law. During the course, the nature, definitions and consequences of the offence of enforced disappearance are analysed and the international legal framework aimed at preventing and punishing it is considered in depth, discussing the potential pitfalls, and the problems in interpretation and application. The examination of the mandate and the functioning of the main international human rights mechanisms dealing with enforced disappearance are a central part of the course. Special attention will be devoted to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and the Committee on Enforced Disappearances. The case law on enforced disappearance developed by the UN Human Rights Committee, the European Court of Human Rights, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights will also be presented and discussed, to single out landmark judgments and interpretative discrepancies, as well as legal problems that remain to be addressed.

The International Criminal Court: Selected Issues

Paola Gaeta

The purpose of this course is to enable students to become familiar with the main features of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and understand the main challenges to the judicial activity of the ICC. The course covers issues concerning the institutional framework of the ICC, such as the scope and ambit of the ICC’s jurisdiction, the complementarity of the ICC to national jurisdictions, and the relationship between the ICC and the UN Security Council. Each topic will be discussed by taking into account one or more specific cases dealt with by the Court, or otherwise arising from practice, so as to combine theoretical analysis with practical knowledge.

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Christophe Golay

Violations of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR), such as those related to food shortages, health crises, forced evictions and displacements, and mass unemployment, are both causes and consequences of armed conflict. This suggests that better protection of these rights could potentially prevent armed conflict and help restore peace and security. This course provides an introduction to the protection of ESCR at international, regional and national levels, and places particular emphasis on the role played by UN monitoring mechanisms. It explores critically the challenges that may arise when measures are taken to protect ESCR before, during and after armed conflict.

Amnesty and Transitional Justice

Frank Haldemann

How should societies emerging from civil wars or dictatorship deal with the legacies of the past? In addressing this issue, commonly discussed under the label ‘transitional justice’, this course examines a range of legal responses to large-scale human rights violations – including criminal prosecutions, reparations, truth commissions and institutional reform. Special attention is paid to the topic of amnesty and its legal as well as political and moral dimensions. What are the arguments for and against ‘transitional amnesties’ that waive criminal prosecutions for designed acts to promote political settlement? The course is structured along two complementary lines: one theoretical, aimed at examining the relevant international legal rules; and one practical, devoted to the critical investigation of concrete transitional justice efforts in countries such as Argentina, Sierra Leone and East Timor.

Use of Force and Counter-Terrorism

Nils Melzer

This course examines in depth the international legal standards governing the use of force in police, military and counter-terrorism operations. A series of foundational lectures distinguish the concepts of 'law enforcement' and 'hostilities' and introduce the specific rules and principles governing the use of force in each situation, with a particular focus on 'grey-zone' situations. The second part of the course allows students to directly examine selected operations occurring in present-day reality and present them for discussion in class. The overarching aim of the course is to illustrate and reaffirm the practical relevance of the rule of law with regard to the use of force in the contemporary security environment.

The Conduct of Hostilities

Eric Steinmyller

With a particular focus on contemporary military operations, this course aims to investigate international humanitarian law rules regulating the conduct of hostilities. Rather than studying individual rules in the abstract or in isolation, they are discussed by analyzing a series of challenges that arise during contemporary military operations, for example drones, urban warfare or human shields. The course is co-taught and considers both theoretical and practical difficulties. The overall aim is to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the rules governing the conduct of hostilities and the skills to understand and argue for their application in a particular situation.