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Welcome to International Humanitarian Law!   Current Syllabus

In this course, we focus on International Humanitarian Law (IHL), a regime within international law concerning jus in bello, or how states and other actors may justly conduct war. IHL is closely connected with international law concerning jus ad bellum (i.e., when states may justly go to war), as well as International Human Rights Law (IHRL). We discuss these topics in this course insofar as it is useful to understand and establish the scope of IHL.

Course content includes the four historical foundations that establish principles and, later, codes underlying modern IHL. We dedicate particular attention to modern law under the Geneva Conventions and Protocols, as well as application of the law to particularly effectual cases of civilian victimization. In light of allegations concerning genocidal acts by Russia, Israel, and Myanmar in recent years, critically evaluating the legal scope of these types crimes will central to many of our discussions. The class concludes with a couple of weeks on post-conflict justice.

Key activities throughout this course to internalize the content include:

  • Focused case puzzles to apply more nuanced applications of IHL in difficult-to-interpret facts in a case

  • Structured debates with assigned ideological positions on notable current events 

  • A dynamic decision-making "game" exploring the Law of Distinction

Artwork by Erin K. Little

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