International Criminal Law

One of the most significant developments in international law and international relations during the past quarter century has been the emergence of a new international legal order based on a robust concept of international criminal justice. With the establishment of a number of international and hybrid national-international criminal courts to try those accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, and other violations of international law, the international community has demonstrated a commitment to ensuring accountability and upholding the rule of law. At the same time, when and how international criminal law is enforced, the role of international justice in relation to ongoing conflicts and post-conflict societies, and the future of international criminal justice remain the subject of intense debate. This seminar will provide a historical perspective on the rise of international criminal justice as well as an overview of a number of discrete topics in international criminal law and justice, including the bodies of law applied in international criminal tribunals, the challenges involved in creating a functioning and effective international criminal justice system, and key developments in international criminal law. The focus of the seminar will be on the work of the first two international criminal courts of the modern era, the tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, and less on the permanent International Criminal Court. The International Criminal Court will form a subject of a few seminars but its jurisprudence is still too limited for us to focus upon. The course will consist of both subject and case discussion of jurisprudence on genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and modes of liability.                                                                                              

These seminars will start with discussion of the principal historical and topical development of international criminal law combined, wherever possible, with the principal case law.  As we proceed, more and more time will be devoted to the discussion of case law/jurisprudence. Students will be lead discussants of topics and cases and are kindly requested to select cases and topics for their presentations as soon as possible. 

All sources used are easily accessible on the Internet. Here are the principal non-case sources: Hague Convention No. IV on Laws and Customs of War on Land 1907, Nuremberg Charter 1945, Geneva Conventions for the Protection of Victims of War, 1949, Nos. III and IV,  and Additional Protocols I and II to the Geneva Conventions, 1977.

The Statutes of the ICTY and the ICTR and listed previsions of the ICC Statute are required reading. It is recommended that these materials as well as the common clauses of the Geneva Conventions listed below in this syllabus and Additional Protocols I and II be read before the seminar or during the early stages of the seminar.

This option is not available in 2023-24