International Humanitarian Law


After successfully completed this course, students will be able to:

  1. identify concepts, terminology, and arenas of international humanitarian law;
  2. recognize and apply key sources of international humanitarian law, and comprehend the complex relationship between them;
  3. work on cases related to human rights violations pertaining to the field of international humanitarian law;
  4. develop arguments on the intersection between law, human rights and politics at international level;
  5. and reflect on contemporary challenges related to international humanitarian law.

Caracterização geral





Professor responsável



Semanais - 3

Totais - A disponibilizar brevemente

Idioma de ensino



A disponibilizar brevemente



  • Crawford E./Pert A. (2015), International Humanitarian Law, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Sassoli M. (2019), International Humanitarian Law. Rules, Controversies, and Solutions to Problems Arising in Warfare, Glos: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited
  • Solis G. (2010), The Law of Armed Conflict. International Humanitarian Law in War, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Additional readings

  • Bailliet M. (ed.) (2019), Research Handbook on International Law and Peace, Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited
  • De Hert P./Smis S./Holvoet M. (eds.) (2018), Convergences and divergences between international human rights, international humanitarian and international criminal law, Cambridge; Antwerp; Portland: Intersentia
  • Djukic D./Pons N. (eds.) (2018), The Companion to International Humanitarian Law, Leiden; Boston: Brill Nijhoff
  • Heffes E./Kotlik M./Ventura M. (eds.) (2020), International Humanitarian Law and Non-State Actors. Debates, Law and Practice, The Hague: T.M.C. Asser Press
  • Heintze H. J./Thielbörger P. (eds.) (2018), International Humanitarian Action, Cham: Springer International Publishing
  • Additional readings to be found in leading journals of international (humanitarian) law:

American Journal of International Law; American Journal of Comparative Law; Chicago Journal of International Law; Common market law review; Cornell International Law Journal; European Journal of International Law; European Law Journal; Fordham International Law Journal; German Law Journal; Global Governance: A Review of Multilateralism and International Organizations; Harvard International Law Journal; Human Rights Quarterly; Human Rights Law Review; International Journal of Constitutional Law; International Journal of Transitional Justice; International Review of the Red Cross; Journal of International Economic Law; Journal of International Criminal Justice; Journal of International Humanitarian Legal Studies; Journal of International Humanitarian Action; Michigan Journal of International Law; Military Law Review; New York University Journal of International Law & Policy; Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law; Virginia Journal of International Law; Yale Journal of International Law

Método de ensino

The course will consist of short lectures and seminar-style discussion based on input provided in the form of a power point presentation. The teaching material will consist of both theories on and cases related to international humanitarian law and relevant contemporary challenges such as terrorism.

This said, the students are expected to actively participate in the in-class discussion (including exercises solving), and work on readings to be made accessible before each meeting on the Moodle platform. The readings will include articles on topics of international humanitarian law, legal texts and court decisions.

The in-class time will also be used in order to discuss at the beginning of each meeting the 'muddiest' point of the previous one (with the help of the Mentimeter application), to answer any kind of questions, and to give thoughtful feedback both to the lecturer and the students .

Método de avaliação

The course participants will be able to choose between two different kinds of assessment.

1. Model

The assessment of students will proceed on the basis of the following methods:

  1. Regular attendance & active participation                                                              20 % (4/20 points)
  2. 5.000-words essay                                                                                                  40 % (8/20 points)
  3. Final exam                                                                                                              40 % (8/20 points)

       Total                                                                                                                            100 % (20/20 points)

In this model, the following assessment criteria and standards will be applied:

  • Regular attendance & active participation: Students have to take part in twenty out of the twenty-four meetings. Moreover, they will be asked to actively participate in the course by: making use of the reading material (to be uploaded on the Moodle platform of the university on a weekly basis) and being able to elaborate on it (e.g. short presentation of the main arguments); discussing at the beginning of each session the ¿muddiest¿ point of the previous one; and giving thoughtful feedback to their colleagues in the course of the discussion.
  • 5.000-words essay: This is the final written work that students will be asked to submit, after they choose a topic or case study to work on in Week 2. The assessment of essays will be based on the successful presentation of the chosen topic or case study; the author¿s critical thinking and argumentation; structure and material organisation; the originality of the ideas included in the work; style (use of language and terminology); and proper use of literature. The final essay will be due in Week 11. For purposes of grading, essays that are submitted late will be treated as not having been submitted at all. The lecturer may make exceptions to this policy for true emergencies, such as serious illness. Requests for exceptions should be made in advance of the deadline, if possible. The decision of the professor to grant or deny a request for an exception is final and unreviewable.
  • Final exam: Students will have to answer to both short and open questions, and solve exercises related to the previously described learning outcomes (see Section IV). The participation to the final exam is mandatory. The final grades will be announced in two weeks after the exam day.

2. Model

The assessment of students will exclusively proceed on the basis of a 3-hour written exam. They will have to answer to both short and open questions, and solve exercises related to the previously described learning outcomes (see Section IV). The final grades will be announced in two weeks after the exam day.


Week 1

  1. Meeting 19 February 2020: Outline of the course and introduction to international humanitarian law (hereafter IHL)
  2. Meeting 20 February 2020: Scope of application of IHL

Week 2

Meeting 27 February 2020: Sources applicable to IHL (I): treaties

* There will be no class on 4 and 5 March 2020 *

Week 3

  1. Meeting 11 March 2020: Sources applicable to IHL (II): customary law and other sources
  2. Meeting 12 March 2020: Core principles of the law of armed conflicts (I): the principle of distinction and the rule of military necessity

Week 4

  1. Meeting 18 March 2020: Core principles of the law of armed conflicts (II): the rule of proportionality and the prohibition of causing unnecessary suffering
  2. Meeting 19 March 2020: The protective regimes (I): wounded, sick and shipwrecked; combatants and prisoners of war

Week 5

  1. Meeting 25 March 2020: The protective regimes (II): civilians
  2. Meeting 26 March 2020: The protective regimes (III): women and children

Week 6

  1. Meeting 1 April 2020: The protective regime (IV): cultural heritage and environment
  2. Meeting 2 April 2020: Battlefield issues (I): obedience to orders; the first defense; command responsibility; respondeat superior

Week 7

  1. Meeting 15 April 2020: Battlefield issues (II): torture; targeting
  2. Meeting 16 April 2020: Battlefield issues (III): use of specific weapons

Week 8

  1. Meeting 22 April 2020: IHL and international criminal law (I): intersections
  2. Meeting 23 April 2020: IHL and international criminal law (II): war crimes

Week 9

  1. Meeting 29 April 2020: IHL and the global fight against terrorism (I): phenomenology
  2. Meeting 30 April 2020: IHL and the global fight against terrorism (II): European regulatory framework

Week 10

  1. Meeting 6 May 2020: IHL and the use of drones
  2. Meeting 7 May 2020: IHL and the use of lethal autonomous weapon systems

Week 11

  1. Meeting 13 May 2020: IHL and cyber-warfare
  2. Meeting 14 May 2020: IHL and non-state armed groups

Week 12

  1. Meeting 20 May 2020: IHL and corporate criminal liability (I): phenomenology
  2. Meeting 21 May 2020: IHL and corporate criminal liability (II): cases

Week 13

Meeting 28 May 2020: The respect of IHL ¿ Final remarks


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