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International Law & War (Module)

Module description

Module description

This module will cover both international law on the use of force (jus ad bellum) and international law governing the conduct of warfare (jus in bello). The jus ad bellum part will begin with an anlaysis of the prohibition on the use of force in Article 2 (4) of the United Nations Charter and will then proceed to examine the exceptions to the prohibition: those codified in the UN Charter (self-defence, collective security) and those which are not (e.g., humanitarian intervention).

We will review and assess the basic jus ad bellum doctrines, while also examining various armed conflicts in relation to which these doctrines have been applied and shaped. Throughout the module, you will be invited to think about jus ad bellum as a contested field in which different actors – legal advisers to foreign offices, military lawyers, international lawyers working for NGOs, legal scholars, activists and others –play a part.

In the jus in bello part of the course, you will become familiar with the relevant customary and treaty law, and engage in a critical analysis of judicial decisions and state practice. The issues that will be addressed include: the distinction between international and non-international armed conflict; the protection of civilians; the law of weaponry and the conduct of hostilities; the relationship between international human rights law and the jus in bello; the law of occupations; and questions of enforcement and implementation.

Throughout the course, current debates on the changing nature of warfare, with a focus on the extent to which they have informed the practice of state and non-state actors, will be considered.

Important note:

This module is offered in conjunction with the War Studies Department. 

There are a limited number of places available on this module. These are shared between students from The Dickson Poon School of Law and the War Studies Department.

Staff information

Dr Marco Roscini and Professor Guglielmo Verdirame

Teaching pattern

Two-hour seminar.

Indicative/suggested reading:

E. Benvenisti, The Law of Occupation (2004).
G. Best, Humanity in Warfare (1983).
E. Crawford, The Treatment of Combatants and Insurgents under the Law of Armed Conflict (2010).
Y. Dinstein, The Conduct of Hostilities under the Law of International Armed Conflict (2010, 2nd ed.).
D. Fleck, Handbook of International Humanitarian Law (2008, 2nd ed.).
J. Gardam, Necessity, Proportionality and the Use of Force by States (2004).
C. Gray, International Law and the Use of Force (2008, 3rd ed.).
C. Greenwood, Essays on War in International Law (2005).
S. C. Neff, War and the Law of Nations: A General History (2006).
A. Roberts, ‘What is a Military Occupation?’ 1984 British Year Book of International Law 249.
A. Roberts and R Guelff, Documents on the Laws of War (2000, 3rd ed.).
A. P. Rogers, Law on the Battlefield (2nd ed., 2004).
M. Roscini, ‘The UN Security Council and the Enforcement of International Humanitarian Law’, 43 Israel Law Review (2010), 330-359.
M. Roscini, ‘Threats of Armed Force and Contemporary International Law’, 54 Netherlands International Law Review (2007), 229-277.
G. D. Solis, The Law of Armed Conflict (2010).
N. Stürchler, The Threat of Force in International Law (2007).
UK MoD, Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict (2005).
G. Verdirame ‘The Sinews of Peace: International Law, Strategy and the Prevention of War’, 78 British Year Book of International Law (2006) 83-162.
G. Verdirame (ed.) ‘Special Issue: Human Rights in War’ [2008] European Human Rights Law Review 6.

Module assessment - more information

Three-hour exam.

Key information

Module code 7SSWM049

Credit level 7

Assessment written examination/s

Credit value 40

Semester Full-year

Study abroad module No