September 2020 - August 2021
Study Mode Full-time
Application start 18 November 2019
Application end 28 February 2020
Application end (with scholarship) 31 January 2020


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Course Catalogue

Core courses are mandatory and provide a solid legal basis and understanding of public international law, international humanitarian law, international human rights law, international refugee law and international criminal law. Optional courses allow our students to deepen their expertise in a particular issue. Places in the optional courses are limited to 20 in order to guarantee the quality of exchanges and discussions.

International Humanitarian Law

Marco Sassòli

International humanitarian law (IHL) comprises the rules of international law limiting violence in armed conflicts by protecting those who do not or who no longer directly participate in hostilities (wounded, sick, shipwrecked, prisoners of war, civilians); and by restricting the level of violence to the amount necessary to achieve the only legitimate aim of the conflict, which is to weaken the military potential of the enemy. The aim of this course is to provide students with the legal knowledge and the analytical and argumentative skills necessary to understand and interpret the rules of IHL and to apply them to facts of international reality. The learning method will be inductive: students will acquire knowledge of IHL by discovering its rules applicable to practical cases taken from contemporary practice. Students will, therefore, have to prepare for every class and acquire their knowledge of the relevant IHL rules through reading extracts from a textbook and studying a case. This case will then be discussed in class and the professor will answer any questions arising from studying the rules and controversies.

International Human Rights Law

Marko Milanovic, Gloria Gaggioli, Neus Torbisco-Casals, Yuval Shany

This course provides a comprehensive overview of the main topics of international human rights (IHRL) law and its relationship with international humanitarian law (IHL). The first semester will begin with an introductory analysis of general human rights (HR) issues, including the nature and sources of HR obligations, their scope of application, the question of non-state actors and the extraterritorial application of HR treaties. It will also examine the existing mechanisms for the protection of HR in the international legal system, and explore specific fundamental rights such as the right to life and the principle of non-discrimination. The course will then look at the applicability of HR in times of armed conflict and its relationship with IHL, analysing notably the practice of the International Court of Justice and the concept of lex specialis. Related aspects of IHRL law will be examined, including derogations and the role of the United Nations Security Council, as well as ongoing legal debates such as detention in armed conflict situations. In the second semester, the course will continue to address HR in armed conflict, including the IHL-IHRL interplay with regard to specific rights and situations such as extraterritorial drone strikes. Other substantive HR, including the right to a fair trial, the principle of legality, the right to an effective remedy and the prohibition of torture will also be examined in detail. Students will gain an overview of the main HR issues and controversies relating to counter-terrorism. Finally, the course will address the question of group rights, including those of religious and ethnic minorities, as well as the right of self-determination of peoples.

International Criminal Law

Paola Gaeta

This course aims to give students an in-depth knowledge of the most crucial issues of international criminal law. After dealing briefly with the birth and evolution of international criminal law as a branch of public international law with regard to the so-called core crimes, the course focuses on the legal ingredients of each core crime (war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide). It also deals with the various forms of criminal accountability, defences and excuses, and the question of international immunities for state officials. As for the mechanisms for enforcing international criminal law, the course examines the role of international and mixed tribunals and national criminal jurisdictions in repressing international crimes, focusing in particular on the legitimate grounds of criminal jurisdiction under international law and the question of universal criminal jurisdiction.

International Law

Andrea Bianchi

International law is a discursive practice used in international relations to deal with legal claims. It is best conceived as a language used by a group of people interacting in a social practice. Emphasis is placed on both the underlying structures of the language spoken by these individuals and the social process of interaction whereby the discourse – which aims to gain social acceptance – is created. The goal of this course is to acquaint students with the terms of this discursive practice and to have them apprehend the fundamental structure of the language of international law, and introduce them to the main processes by which the discourse is articulated by the social actors concerned with its practice. Ultimately, the goal is to train students to speak the language of international law competently and teach them how to argue and interact in the different professional settings where it is spoken.

International Refugee Law

Vincent Chetail

Who is a refugee? What is the legal framework currently applicable to those fleeing states affected by armed conflicts like Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan? What are the related obligations of European states? This course analyses the main international and regional legal norms governing refugee protection. It examines the sources of international refugee law, including the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and their interaction with human rights law and international humanitarian law. It also analyzes the definition of a refugee under both the 1951 Geneva Convention and the Common European Asylum System, the principle of non-refoulement as well as asylum procedures. Particular attention is dedicated to the case law of State Parties to the 1951 Geneva Convention.