September 2017 - August 2018
Application start 15 November 2016
Application end 5 March 2017
Application end (with scholarship) 30 January 2017


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Course Catalogue

The Legal Protection of Children in Armed Conflicts

Cécile Aptel

Despite the broad acceptance of existing special rules of protection, children are among the most affected in countries suffering from armed conflicts and their aftermath. This course aims to analyze and question the legal protection afforded to children in situations of armed conflict as well as in post-conflict settings, by drawing on international human rights law, international humanitarian law, international criminal law and transitional justice.

Special attention is paid to the international crimes particularly affecting children, such as killing, maiming, the recruitment and use of children to participate in hostilities, sexual violence, attacks against schools and hospitals and denial of humanitarian access.

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.

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Christophe Golay

This course focuses on the promotion and protection of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR), including the rights to food, health, housing and water. It presents a history of ESCR and defines ESCR and states’ obligations. It also analyzes the role played by monitoring mechanisms, including United Nations (UN) treaty bodies and Special Rapporteurs, regional bodies, domestic jurisdictions, UN agencies and NGOs. The course also looks at the protection of ESCR during armed conflicts. Through an ESCR lens, it looks at the International Court of Justice 'Wall' advisory opinion concerning the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The course ends with a reflection on the need to better protect ESCR in the context of economic globalization.

Amnesty, Human Rights 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.

The Right to Life

Christof Heyns

The right to life is often described as the ‘supreme’ or ‘foundational’ right. Participants are introduced to the main actors and their roles in securing this right. The course explores the legal and other protection given to this right, limitations on the right, and accountability where the right is violated. It also addresses cutting-edge issues in this field, such as the management of demonstrations and the interaction between technology (such as armed drones and autonomous weapons) and the right to life.

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

Nils Melzer, 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.

Criminal Procedure before International Courts

Robert Roth

There is no such thing as an ‘international criminal procedure’. Every tribunal and court has developed its own procedure, building of course on the experiences of its predecessors. The work is still in progress but the sum of all these experiences constitutes a body of rules and decisions which reaches a certain degree of consistency. This course begins with a broad comparative analysis of contemporary trends in criminal procedure, explaining why the traditional opposition accusatorial vs. inquisitorial is no longer valid, all systems being to a certain degree accusatorial. It also explores the separation of the trial and the pre-trial phase in international criminal proceedings, the rights and obligations of the main actors – prosecution, defence, legal representation of the victims – and the principles governing the trial. The course also addresses special features like the role of the pre-trial judge or the regulation of in absentia proceedings before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Throughout, the course emphasizes the influence of international human rights law on (international) criminal procedure.

The Law and Practice of the International Criminal Court

William A. Schabas

The case law of the International Criminal Court is used as a framework for the examination of major issues in international criminal law, including those relating to the definitions of crimes, procedure and justice policy. Each week’s session focuses on a major decision, with supplementary readings from the case law of other international tribunals and from academic commentary. By the end of the course, students should acquire a general grasp of the operation of the Court and a familiarity with the main features of the Rome Statute.