Was NATO’s military intervention in Libya legal? What about Afghanistan? Or the imprisonment of America’s detainees in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba? Is Russia’s military overrun of Ukraine lawful? What is the legal status of killing by drones? What happens to people who commit war crimes? What are the remedies for an illegal war? This seminar examines the international law governing war, including both questions of when war is legal (so-called ‘jus ad bellum’) and how even legal wars must be conducted (so-called ‘jus in bello’ or the laws and customs of war) and the relationship between the two types of law. It also examines the various judicial institutions that have jurisdiction over these issues, from the World Court, to the ad hoc tribunals (Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone), to national courts exercising ‘universal jurisdiction’ (Belgium, Canada), to the new International Criminal Court.
Case studies on the armed conflicts over Kosovo, in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, Ukraine, and between Israel and the Palestinians, provide the settings for concrete legal analysis and also for critical evaluation of the role of law in war.