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Spring 2024 Course

Laws of War

Prerequisite: Public International Law is recommended.

Exam Type: One-Day Take-Home

The law of war is one of the oldest branches of international law, but whether its centuries-old norms align with modern conflicts remains a contested area of legal practice and interpretation. This course will explore the primary fields of international law concerning recourse to force and situations of armed conflict. We will examine foundational doctrines and concepts and then explore some of the foremost contemporary challenges. We will consider, for example, direct participation of civilians in hostilities; the geographic, temporal, material, and personal scope of armed conflict; the interplay between international human rights law, international criminal law, and IHL; and the relationship between the legal framework governing terrorism and IHL. We will investigate such questions as: how does international law regulate the means and methods of warfare, protection of civilians, and humanitarian access in situations of armed conflict? How does international law classify and regulate different categories of armed conflict, and how does it distinguish armed conflicts from other situations of organized armed violence? How does the law seek to balance principles of military necessity and humanity? And how does the law address emergent technologies?