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International Humanitarian Law - JURD7381
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Faculty: Faculty of Law
School:  Faculty of Law
Course Outline: See below
Campus: Kensington Campus
Career: Postgraduate
Units of Credit: 6
EFTSL: 0.12500 (more info)
Indicative Contact Hours per Week: 3
Enrolment Requirements:
Prerequisite: LAWS1001 and LAWS1011 and Corequisite: LAWS2311; Prerequisite: JURD7101 and JURD7111 and Corequisite: JURD7211
Excluded: LAWS3181
Fee Band: 3 (more info)
Further Information: See Class Timetable


The course is designed to provide a detailed overview of international humanitarian law in a broad context. In this sense it will place international humanitarian law within public international law, and delineate its relationship to other areas of that law such as the international law of human rights and areas of international law related to the protection of the human being. Specifically, it will cover principles and rules relating to the protection of individuals during armed conflict, as well as rules relating to the means and methods of warfare, including weapons issues. We will also consider the means of implementation and enforcement of international humanitarian law. The course will also involve discussion of humanitarian action generally, the relevant international legal framework established for such action, and the various actors involved.

Recommended Prior Knowledge

This course builds on basic international legal knowledge provided by the course JURD7481 Public International Law (or equivalent). Students who have not completed this course or a similar course may be expected to do some preliminary and additional reading in order to ensure that they have the necessary background to benefit from this course.

Course Objectives

A participant who has successfully completed this course should:
  • Have a sound understanding of the development, scope, principles, and main rules of international humanitarian law
  • Understand the relationship between international humanitarian law and related areas of municipal and international law
  • Understand the process by which principles and rules of international humanitarian law continue to develop
  • Be familiar with the role that governments and various institutions play in the implementation and enforcement of IHL, as well as the institutional framework established by the Red Cross Movement and States in relation to armed conflict and humanitarian issues generally
  • Be able to examine critically current developments in relation to IHL, and the policy challenges involved
  • Be familiar with critical perspectives on the role these norms and institutions play in relation to the interests of the victims of armed conflict and principles of military necessity
  • Be able to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the IHL regime as it now stands

Main Topics

  • The position of international humanitarian law within public international law
  • The relationship between rules related to the right to use force and international humanitarian law
  • The historical development of related international legal norms
  • The principles determining the rules applicable in different conflict situations, or issues of classification of conflicts
  • Rules related to the protection of persons during armed conflict, as well as situations of violence not amounting to armed conflict
  • Rules and principles regarding the means and methods of warfare, including weapons issues
  • The relationship between international humanitarian law, concepts of human rights, and international human rights law
  • Implementation and enforcement of international humanitarian law, including a brief overview of the international tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and the Statute of the International Criminal Court, as well as national enforcement of international humanitarian law
  • Challenges and potential new directions for international humanitarian law, including issues raised by terrorism
  • The role of the ICRC and the Red Cross Movement in armed conflict, and the work of governments, other international organisations and NGOs


Class participation 15%
Mid-Semester Assessment 25%
Research essay OR final exam 60%

Course Texts

LC Green, The Contemporary Law of Armed Conflict (3rd edn, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2008)

The Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 (ICRC) (refer to Course Outline for details on how to obtain these materials).

F Kalshoven and L Zegveld, Constraints on the waging of war (ICRC, Geneva, 2001)
D Fleck (ed), The Handbook of Humanitarian Law in Armed Conflicts (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2008)
J-M Henckaerts and L Doswald-Beck (eds), Customary International Humanitarian Law: Volume I: Rules (CUP, Cambridge, 2005) (paperback)


Refer to Course Outline provided by lecturer.

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© The University of New South Wales (CRICOS Provider No.: 00098G), 2004-2011. The information contained in this Handbook is indicative only. While every effort is made to keep this information up-to-date, the University reserves the right to discontinue or vary arrangements, programs and courses at any time without notice and at its discretion. While the University will try to avoid or minimise any inconvenience, changes may also be made to programs, courses and staff after enrolment. The University may also set limits on the number of students in a course.