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This module introduces students to the field of international humanitarian law, i.e. the law that applies during armed conflict situations. It provides a discussion and analysis of the history of this branch of law, from its first manifestations in early religions and ancient civilisations, through the adoption of the Geneva Conventions in 1949, and up to current attempts to regulate lethal autonomous weapons. It provides a critique of the different legal regimes of jus in bello and jus ad bellum, and analyses the general principles of international humanitarian law, i.e. distinction, proportionality, humanity and military necessity. It focuses on both the methods and means of warfare, as well as the conduct of hostilities and provides a discussion of relevant legal treaties on these issues, including the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977. The module also seeks to evaluate the application of these rules to case studies and scenarios and to critically analyse how international humanitarian law is enforced.
The ultimate aim of this module is to provide students will an appreciation of the international humanitarian law framework, the challenges in implementing this framework in conflict situations and the gaps in the current legal regime.