One of the most important areas of international law is the law regulating recourse to and the use of force. It is a unique body of law comprising two separate and distinct bodies of rules: the jus ad bellum, which is the law governing the legality of the resort to force, and the jus in bello, which is the law regulating the conduct of hostilities. The jus in bello is also referred to as humanitarian law, the law of armed conflict, or the laws of war. The law of armed conflict is a body of rules that was developed to protect the most vulnerable groups during armed conflict and to mitigate the deleterious effects of the methods of warfare. Unfortunately, these rules are frequently violated during armed conflicts and this gives rise to the further question of how these rules can be effectively enforced.
International Law; Human Rights and Social Justice.
Recommended Prior Knowledge
This course aims to:
- Provide you with a basic knowledge and understanding of both the substantive and procedural aspects of the law of armed conflict
- Introduce you to the basic objectives and principles underlying the rules of armed conflict, including the major treaties, enforcement mechanisms, and the relationship between humanitarian and human rights law
- Develop your skills in applying, analyzing and critiquing the relevant principles
- Help you to appreciate the dynamic and evolving nature of the laws of war
- History and scope of the law of armed conflict (including customary international humanitarian law)
- Types of conflict and thresholds of applicability of the law: (i) international conflict; (ii) non-international armed conflict; (iii) self-determination movements; (iv) internationalized armed conflict
- Law on the conduct of hostilities: (i) non-combatants; (ii) wounded, sick and shipwrecked; (iii) humanitarian personnel and the protective emblem; (iv) combatants and prisoners of war: status and treatment; (v) spies, mercenaries; (vi) methods of combat; (vii) means of combat; (viii) issues: nuclear weapons, arms control & disarmament, culture, environment
- The problem of terrorism and terrorists: status, rights, asymmetrical warfare, necessity, and assassination
- The law of occupation
- The relationship between human rights law & humanitarian law
- Implementation, responsibility and enforcement
Class participation (Preparation and engagement in class) 10%
Research essay (6000-8000 words) 90%
Course readers will be available for purchase from the UNSW Bookshop.
Roberts and Guelff, Documents on the Laws of War (3rd ed) (Clarendon Press, Oxford University Press 2000)