This course will examine the sources of international humanitarian law (IHL), as well as the threshold criteria for its applicability in an armed conflict. It will provide an introduction to the key principles and terminology of IHL, and lay the groundwork for the following courses on IHL. After completing this course, participants will have a thorough knowledge of the sources of International Law applicable to armed conflicts and its scope of application.
Besides the law governing the conduct of hostilities, the second main purpose of international humanitarian law (IHL) is to mitigate the human suffering caused by war. This second branch is also known as the law of Geneva. It is, therefore, crucial to carefully study the various rules of IHL that can help to protect vulnerable persons – such as civilians and prisoners of war – as well as goods during armed conflict. After having followed this course, participants will know who the protected persons and goods are and what rules of IHL can be used for their protection in an international armed conflict. An overview of the rules applicable in non-international armed conflicts will also be given.
This course will delve into one of the most challenging and important aspects of international humanitarian law (IHL) – its implementation in practice. It will cover the ‘nuts and bolts’ of implementation, including national legislation, dissemination and training, and discuss the mechanisms such as the International Fact-Finding Commission, as set out in the treaties. However, it will also explore challenges of implementation and challenge students to think critically and creatively about how to make IHL – a body of law considered by some to be ‘at the vanishing point of international law’ – work in practice.
This course examines an emblematic example of the complexity of international humanitarian law (IHL) and the challenges it raises: the classification of armed conflicts (ACs). The course first analyzes the contours of the various categories of ACs (e.g. international AC, internationalized non-international ACs, wars of national liberation, belligerent occupations, high-intensity and low-intensity non-international ACs) in connection with the traditional distinction between non-international and international ACs. The course then questions the relevance of this last distinction in light of the requirements of contemporary ACs and the increased role played by independent actors within them. The course relies, as much as possible, on concrete examples illustrating the different categories of ACs and the controversies they raise.
While international humanitarian law (IHL) was initially drafted and is still most detailed for international armed conflicts (IACs), most armed conflicts are today of a non-international character (NIACs). This course discusses the protection offered by IHL in NIACs and examines why and to what extent IHL of IACs and IHL of NIACs are different or similar, as well as where the rules applicable to NIACs can be found. It also addresses some problems and controversies specific to IHL of NIACs, including the difficulty to ensure the respect of IHL by armed non-state actors.