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Unit of study_

LAWS3483: War Law: Use of Force and Humanitarian Law

A vital function of public international is its struggle against violence, both in preventing it from occurring and mitigating its effects once it gets under way. This unit explores two key areas of international law devoted to regulating intense violence involving governments or non- State actors: (1) International Law on the Use of Armed Force, and (2) International Humanitarian Law (also known as the Law of Armed Conflict or the Laws of War). The first part of the course considers the prohibition on the use of force under customary law and the United Nations Charter; exceptions to that prohibition in cases of self-defence by States or collective security action by the UN Security Council; controversies over pre-emptive self-defence, humanitarian intervention and the Responsibility to Protect; peacekeeping and peace enforcement; the role of regional and international actors; and the use of force by and against non-State actors. The second part of the course considers the origins, purposes and sources of international humanitarian law; its scope of application; the different types and thresholds of conflict; the permissible means and methods of warfare (including restrictions on weapons); the status and treatment of combatants and non-combatants and others (such as spies, mercenaries, unlawful combatants, terrorists, journalists, and private security contractors); the protection of cultural property and the environment; the relationship between human rights law and humanitarian law; and the implementation, supervision and enforcement of humanitarian law (including the prosecution of war crimes and the role of the International Committee of the Red Cross).

Code LAWS3483
Academic unit Law
Credit points 6
LAWS3440 or LAWS5183 or LAWS6218

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. understand the substantive law in each of the topic areas
  • LO2. develop stronger skills of advanced legal analysis and reasoning
  • LO3. discuss the strengths and limitations of the relevant law
  • LO4. understand the political, ideological, ethical and philosophical implications of the law
  • LO5. outline the sources of the law and be able to research further in the area
  • LO6. develop enhanced skills of legal research and writing, including the ability to write in a clear and logical manner, using plain and concise language.

Unit outlines

Unit outlines will be available 2 weeks before the first day of teaching for the relevant session.