International laws on the use of force
- Course Code:
- Unit value:
- Taught in:
- Term 1
This half unit course running in Term 1 introduces students to the range of international laws which govern war and armed conflict. International laws on the use of force form the core content. Each seminar will introduce students to mainstream approaches and debates on the use of force before contrasting these with topical and controversial views on the laws on the use of force. Student’s will be encouraged to follow current developments and practice while being introduced to the Charter system for collective security and the role of state justifications in the use of force. The shift, by states, to the use of justifications for force outside of the Charter paradigm will also be looked at throughout the course. Key case law from the ICJ, institutional reports (such as the In Larger Freedom Report, Responsibility to Protect and A More Secure World) and recent justifications for force by states will be used to demonstrate controversial and settled aspects of the laws on the use of force.
Objectives and learning outcomes of the course
- To introduce students to the international laws on the use of force.
- To introduce the students to different issues which arise in relation to international law, war and armed conflict.
- To provide knowledge of how international laws on the use of force are formed and applied through the development of customary international law, treaty law and the work of international organisations.
- To explain the relationship between theoretical perspectives on international law and the explanations and justifications for the behaviour of states, and other actors which influence the development of the laws on the use of force.
- To develop the student’s critical thinking skills
- To encourage reflection on shifting trends and practices in international law.
Learning Outcomes -
At the end of the course the students will be able to:
- Identify the international laws on the use of force and their sources.
- Identify contemporary issues raised by international laws on the use of force.
- To examine a range of theoretical approaches to international laws on the use of force
- Discuss the ways in which the international laws on the use of force engage with broader international legal concepts and practices
- Illustrate their understanding of (1) to (3), above, through the use of appropriate state practice examples, UN documents and international law in written work that demonstrates independent research and critical thinking skills.
This course runs in Term 1: Students will be expected to attend one 2-hour lecture over 10 weeks.
Scope and syllabus
The course structure will be as follows:
Week One – Introduction to the Laws on the Use of Force and their history.
Week Two – The role of theoretical approaches to the development of international law
Week Three – The UN Charter: Prohibiting Force, the history and application of Article 2(4)
Week Four – The UN Charter: Self-defence, the history and application of Article 51
Week Five – Beyond the Charter: the emergence of the doctrine of Pre-emptive Self-defence
Week Six and Seven – The UN Charter Collective Security Structure: the History and Application of Chapter VII
Week Eight – Beyond the Charter: self-determination as a justification for the use of force
Week Nine – Beyond the Charter: humanitarian intervention as a justification for the use of force
Week Ten – Beyond the Charter: The ‘war on terror’ and recent conflicts
Week Eleven – New developments/ Overview
Special attention will be paid across the course to the impact of armed conflict on developing states, to the role international law’s imperial history plays in contemporary international legal narratives on the regulation of armed conflict and to the capacity for women’s experiences of armed conflict to be used as a transformative tool. Furthermore, throughout the course the focus will be on understanding the law through engagement with state practice, international norms and theoretical perspectives. Students will be introduced, at the beginning of the course, to a range of theoretical approaches to international law, including Critical Legal Scholarship, New Approaches to International Law, Third World Approaches to International Law, Post-colonial Theories and Feminist Legal Theories. Across the course students will be encouraged to reflect on the relationship between theory and practice. The course will specifically encourage students to look beyond the laws on war to preventative strategies and post-conflict research.
The course fits in with the growing number of public international law courses that the School already has running, at the level of content as well as with respect to the key themes of the course.
Method of assessmentAssessment weighting: 100% coursework (one 5000 word essay) All coursework may be resubmitted. Date of submission: last day of week 1 of the Term after that in which the course is taught.
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