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About this course

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Armed conflicts have always existed all over the world. Unfortunately, recent events have shown that this phenomenon is becoming increasingly complex, especially with respect to certain legal issues, for instance relating to:

  • the definition of armed conflicts when foreign forces are fighting armed groups located in the territory of another State.
  • the definition of combatants when terrorists are involved in the hostilities.
  • the targeting of certain objects which are used for both military and civilian purposes.
  • the detention by rebels of State armed forces.
  • the involvement and status of UN peacekeepers involved in combat operations.
  • the application of the law of occupation to international organizations.

This law course will help you to understand these complex legal issues by teaching you basic norms governing armed conflicts, also known as ‘International Humanitarian Law’ (‘IHL’). This course provides essential theoretical and practical knowledge for students, researchers and academics who wish to specialize in this field. It is also dedicated to professionals, including members of NGOs, involved in armed conflict situations, or members of armed forces.

Starting with the sources and subjects of IHL, as well as its scope of application, the course will address the main substantive norms of IHL governing: the conduct of hostilities; the protection afforded to persons in the hands of the enemy; occupation; and implementation of IHL.

We will discuss questions such as:

  • who and what can be targeted by the enemy.
  • which weapons can be used.
  • which method of warfare is authorized.
  • who enjoys protection and what type of protection.
  • which norms apply in non international armed conflicts.

We will also deal with the different ways through which IHL can be implemented and how belligerents may be held accountable for violations of its rules when committing war crimes or crimes against humanity.

These critical issues will be addressed in light of recent practice, including the fight against ISIS and Al-Qaeda in different regions of the world, as well as other recent conflicts such as those occurring in Armenia, Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, RDC, Syria, The Soudan, Ukraine or Yemen. Older ongoing conflicts, such as the Israeli-Palestinian one, will also be addressed.

What you'll learn

  • Decode and analyze in depth complex issues related to armed conflicts
  • Understand the philosophy and logic underlying International Humanitarian Law norms
  • Be able to propose constructive solutions in light of the evolution of the nature of armed conflicts and the legal norms applicable to them