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School of Law

Jurisprudence of International Criminal Tribunals

Course Code:
Unit value:

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

At the end of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate

  1. A clear understanding of the history and evolution of international criminal law.
  2. A clear understanding of the substantive rules of international criminal law.
  3. Knowledge of the major international and internationalized criminal tribunals, both ad hoc and permanent, established since 1945.
  4. A clear understanding of the major procedural issues before international and internationalized criminal tribunals.
  5. The capacity to apply the law to specific situations, whether real or hypothetical.
  6. The ability to present and defend an argument and debate it with fellow students.

Students will demonstrate this knowledge through written essays and memos and class presentations of memos along with responses to other memos.  Students will be encouraged to participate actively in class through those presentations and responses.

Scope and syllabus

Term 1

  1. What is international criminal law?  A brief history, sources and jurisdictional issues
  2. Core legal principles: international humanitarian and human rights law
  3. Procedural issues: command responsibility, retroactivity and superior orders
  4. Substantive legal developments: sexual and gender based violence and children in armed conflict
  5. Universal jurisdiction: rise and fall?
  6. Procedural issues: amnesties and official immunities before international and national courts
  7. Procedural issues: joint criminal enterprise and complicity
  8. The International Criminal Court: history, mandate and jurisdiction
  9. Admissibility and other matters before the ICC: gravity and complementarity and state co-operation
  10. Evolving practice: victims and witnesses and rights of the defence

Revision session

Method of assessment

Assessment weighting: 100% coursework (one 5000 word essay - 75%; one 1500 word essay - 20%; one oral presentation - 5%).  All written coursework may be resubmitted.