Laws of War (International Humanitarian Law)
The subset of international law relating to the conduct of war – known as international humanitarian law (IHL) or the law of armed conflict – plays a prominent role in contemporary debates about law and political violence across the world from Libya to Afghanistan, from Ukraine to Syria. The institutions, discourses, and practices associated with IHL help shape contemporary debates about the use of force, provide a powerful language of legitimacy and de-legitimization, and structure decisions that may have crucial effects on international order and international human rights. This seminar has two goals: first, to provide a basic introduction to IHL and second to explore some of the most pressing challenges that arise in the contemporary theory and practice of IHL. Topics explored will include: historical development, sources and fundamental principles and rules of IHL; means and methods of warfare and treatment of different categories of persons during conflict, including civilians and POWs; direct participation in hostilities; the complementary nature of IHL and human rights law; gender and IHL; humanitarian action; humanitarian intervention and the responsibility to protect; IHL and terrorism; and the changing technology of war, among other things. A background in or familiarity with public international law and/or international human rights is helpful, but not necessary, to participate in the seminar.