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Law of Armed Conflict - LAWS8188
 Sir John Clancy Auditorium

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: 2
Enrolment Requirements:
Pre-requisite: Academic Program must be 9200 or 9210 or 5740 or 9230 or 9240 or 5760 or 9281 or 5281 or 9211 or 5211 or 9285 or 5285 or 9220 or 5750.
Excluded: JURD7488
CSS Contribution Charge:Band 3 (more info)
Further Information: See Class Timetable


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.

LLM Specialisations

Recommended Prior Knowledge


Course Objectives

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

Main Topics

  • 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 words) 90%

Course Texts

Course readers will be available for purchase from the UNSW Bookshop.

to be advised

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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.