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.

Enforced Disappearances in International Law

Gabriella Citroni

This course examines the existing international legal framework and jurisprudence on the phenomenon of enforced disappearance. While the main focus is international human rights law, references are made, where pertinent, to international humanitarian law and international criminal law. During the course, the nature, definitions and consequences of the offence of enforced disappearance are analysed and the international legal framework aimed at preventing and punishing it is considered in depth, discussing the potential pitfalls, and the problems in interpretation and application. The examination of the mandate and the functioning of the main international human rights mechanisms dealing with enforced disappearance are a central part of the course. Special attention will be devoted to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and the Committee on Enforced Disappearances. The case law on enforced disappearance developed by the UN Human Rights Committee, the European Court of Human Rights, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights will also be presented and discussed, to single out landmark judgments and interpretative discrepancies, as well as legal problems that remain to be addressed.

The Conduct of Hostilities

Eric Steinmyller

With a particular focus on contemporary military operations, this course aims to investigate international humanitarian law rules regulating the conduct of hostilities. Rather than studying individual rules in the abstract or in isolation, they are discussed by analyzing a series of challenges that arise during contemporary military operations, for example, drones, urban warfare or human shields. The course considers both theoretical and practical difficulties. The overall aim is to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the rules governing the conduct of hostilities and the skills to understand and argue for their application in a particular situation, with an adapted knowledge of the armed forces’ organization.

Use of Force and Counter-Terrorism

Nils Melzer

This course examines in depth the international legal standards governing the use of force in police, military and counter-terrorism operations. A series of foundational lectures distinguish the concepts of 'law enforcement' and 'hostilities' and introduce the specific rules and principles governing the use of force in each situation, with a particular focus on 'grey-zone' situations. The second part of the course allows students to directly examine selected operations occurring in present-day reality and present them for discussion in class. The overarching aim of the course is to illustrate and reaffirm the practical relevance of the rule of law with regard to the use of force in the contemporary security environment.


Antonio Coco, Patryk I. Labuda

In the last twenty-five years, several international criminal tribunals have developed a rich institutional practice. Although much academic commentary tends to focus on high-profile international trials, doctrines or the case law of international criminal tribunals, the actual practice of trying perpetrators of international crimes throws up a wide variety of assorted challenges for international criminal law (ICL) practitioners. This course covers several cross-cutting institutional themes in international criminal justice, ranging from investigation strategies and relations with state actors to much-overlooked topics like victim and witness protection and the right to an adequate defence. The course explores these topics from a comparative perspective, building on the practice of the ad hoc tribunals, hybrid jurisdictions such as the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia, and the International Criminal Court. This multidimensional institutional analysis of international criminal tribunals provides students with novel perspectives on the practice of ICL.

Groupes Armés Non-étatiques et Droit International

Annyssa Bellal

This course, delivered in French, focuses on the study of non-state armed groups in contemporary armed conflicts and how international law regulates their actions. Questions addressed by the course include: What types of groups fall under the scope of international humanitarian law and/or human rights law? What is the impact of counter-terrorism legislation on armed groups? How is humanitarian engagement with these actors possible, including with groups such as Islamic State or al-Qaeda? The course is based on legal theoretical analysis, while also covering key policy considerations.

Introduction to the Islamic Law of Armed Conflict

Ahmed Al-Dawoody

This course introduces students to the Islamic law of armed conflict and how it relates to the current conflicts in Muslim contexts. It examines the rules regulating the use of force during both international and non-international armed conflicts under classical Islamic law. Classical Islamic rules providing protection to certain persons and objects and those regulating certain means and methods of warfare are examined in order to find out, first, the impact/challenges surrounding their application in current armed conflict situations and, second, their compatibility with international humanitarian law rules. The course also discusses the distinction between the use of legitimate force and terrorism (both domestic and international) under Islamic law. It analyses the development of the classical Islamic public international law framework and its impact on the issues of the Islamic jus ad bellum and the jurisdiction of Islamic law. The course starts with identifying and defining the Islamic law key concepts, sources, and schools in order to familiarize the students with such a complex and highly technical legal system and understand the extent of its contemporary application.

History and Sources of International Humanitarian Law

Jean-Marie Henckaerts

This course provides an overview of the history and sources of contemporary international humanitarian law (IHL), starting from the 1864 Geneva Convention until today. It looks at the development of IHL treaties, both the main stream of the Geneva Conventions and other streams such as Hague law, cultural property law, and weapons law. At the same time it looks closer at the main sources of IHL, treaties, custom and general principles, their characteristics, relationship and evolution. In so doing, it will also touch upon various soft law instruments and restatements of IHL, as well as the relationship between the development of IHL and the development of international human rights law and international criminal law.

L'Humanitaire en questions: autour de l'histoire du CICR

Francesca Piana

L’humanitaire envahit les écrans, les médias et nos vies. Il passe pour l’une des démarches et des valeurs les plus prisées de notre temps. Mais que recouvre exactement ce phénomène? D’où vient-il? Quels objectifs poursuit-il? Quels obstacles rencontre-t-il? Et que signifie la place dominante qu’il occupe aujourd’hui? L’histoire du Comité international de la Croix-Rouge (CICR), la plus ancienne des organisations internationales consacrées à l’aide aux victimes, donne des réponses éclairantes à ces questions. A travers l’approfondissement de plusieurs moments-clés de cette institution vieille de plus de 150 ans, on saisit que l’engouement dont il jouit est récent. L’idéal de compassion sur lequel il repose n’entend pas lutter contre les injustices mais est indissociable du nationalisme comme du colonialisme. De fait, s’il comprend une part indéniable de dévouement, il n’est pas totalement désintéressé. Et c’est précisément cette caractéristique qui lui a permis de durer. De même, s’il est soumis à de nombreuses limites, qu’elles soient financières, pratiques ou intellectuelles, celles-ci ne constituent pas un embarras provisoire mais la condition même de l’humanitaire. Enfin, la notoriété actuelle du concept ne reflète pas uniquement sa consécration comme concrétisation du Bien. Elle a aussi des effets rhétoriques qui peuvent altérer le jeu politique ou la recherche scientifique. Ainsi, le parcours du CICR met en lumière des réalités contre-intuitives voire carrément dérangeantes. En dernière analyse, il incite à s’interroger sur les causes de l’emballement d’aujourd’hui, issu à la fois de la multiplication des actions et d’un galvaudage lexical, faisant de l’humanitaire une sorte d’équivalent à la notion de bonne intention.

The Rule of Law in Practice

Nicolas Mansfield

What is ‘the rule of law’ and why is it considered important for economic and democratic development? How has rule of law development assistance evolved over the last half-century and what are its antecedents? How are rule of law programmes designed, what are their typical components, and how is their impact measured? This course considers rule of law work from the perspective of the practitioner, using case studies, procurement documents and project reports to help students understand how rule of law projects are developed and implemented in the field. The course also considers scholarly critiques of rule of law assistance, allowing students to evaluate the operational features of such assistance within a broader analytical framework.

Civil Society and Transitional Justice

Alex Conte

The role and engagement of civil society in transitional justice are ever-developing, with practices and lessons learned over time confirming the essential role that civil society actors play in prompting, engaging in and ensuring the sustainability of transitional justice processes. This course takes a primarily practice-based approach to the subject and will be of importance and value to those from a civil society background, those wishing to work within civil society organizations and those with an interest in the transformative potential of civil society actors. The course will begin with examination of civil society as a transitional justice actor, providing a broad base for in-depth consideration of further issues; it will explore three particular modalities of action in detail (monitoring and documentation of human rights violations; engaging with supra-national mechanisms; and strategic litigation); and will conclude with an assessment of project cycle management, an increasingly vital aspect of the functioning of NGOs today.