JJUA55038U International Criminal Law and Procedure

Volume 2015/2016

The first part of the course elaborates on the first limb of international criminal law (substantive law) by addressing the following issues:
• Historical development of international criminal law: from Nuremberg to the International Criminal Court.
• Principles of international criminal law.
• Introduction to international crimes.
• The ‘crime of crimes’: genocide. CASE STUDIES: ICTR Akayesu case; ICTY Popovic case (Srebrenica) and ICC Situation in Darfur (Omar Al Bashir case).
• War crimes. CASE STUDIES: Goldstone report on the 2008 Israeli-Gaza conflict and the Syrian bloodshed.
• Crimes against humanity. CASE STUDIES: ICC Situations on post-electoral violence in Kenya and Ivory Coast.
• The crime of aggression.
• The crime of terrorism in international law. CASE STUDIES: the US-led ‘war on terror’ and the crime of terrorism within the jurisdiction of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
• Principal and accomplice modes of criminal liability in international criminal courts and tribunals.
• Immunities in international law and core international crimes. CASE STUDIES: Pinochet and Charles Taylor. ICJ Arrest Warrant Case (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Belgium) and ICJ Case Concerning Questions Relating to the Obligation to Prosecute or Extradite (Belgium v. Senegal).
• Grounds excluding criminal responsibility (defences) in international criminal law. The second part of the course (procedural law) deals with the fundamentals and principles of international criminal adjudication, and stages of international criminal proceedings. The course also includes the discussion of the main challenging issues in contemporary legal proceedings:
• Jurisdiction of international criminal courts and tribunals (international courts’ jurisdiction and national jurisdictions; primacy of the ad hoc tribunals and the ICC’s principle of complementarity).
• Sui generis system of international criminal adjudication (incorporation of adversarial and inquisitorial systems; hybridization of international criminal procedure).
• Principles of international criminal trials.
• Investigation and pre-trial stage.
• Trial stage.
• Appeals, sentencing and enforcement of sentences.
• Rights of the accused v. protection of victims and witnesses. Victim participation. Depending upon the geographical representation of students, the last two lectures will be dedicated to national prosecution and adjudication of core international crimes. The discussion will explore challenges encountered by national War Crimes Units in their work, in particularly with respect to the legal qualification of conduct, the choice of the correct mens rea standards and modes of liability; as well as complex procedural issues (collection and admissibility of evidence, protection of victims and witnesses, cooperation, etc).

Learning Outcome

Main objectives of the course are to enable students to:
- Present and explain theoretical and practical issues of international criminal law and the application thereof in cases appearing before international criminal courts and tribunals as well as domestic courts;
- Identify complex domain-specific legal problems;
- Find professional solutions for domain-specific legal problems;
- Apply legal analysis to the actual problems of the domain-specific jurisprudence;
- Present and challenge arguments pertinent to the subject of the course;
- Decide between alternatives and come up with reasoned theoretical and practical options in order to discuss the application of international criminal law and procedure.

Robert Cryer et al, An Introduction to International Criminal Law and procedure (Cambridge University Press, 3rd ed, 2014).

A further reading list will be distributed among students and posted on Absalon during the course.

Students will acquire in-depth knowledge of the workings of international criminal courts and tribunals as well as challenges encountered by domestic courts in the prosecution and adjudication of core international crimes. In addition, the course will address some aspects of international humanitarian law and public international law.
A fair knowledge of the English language is a minimum requirement. Students will be required to participate actively in class. Participants must have completed a standard course in basic criminal law.
Lectures and seminars
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Guidance
  • 2
  • Practical exercises
  • 10
  • Preparation
  • 364,5
  • Seminar
  • 36
  • Total
  • 412,5
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 min
Oral exam with preparation, 20 minutes
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Exam period

Autumn: Cancelled in E15

Spring: May 30 - June 3, 2016 (preliminary dates)

Criteria for exam assesment

Successful achievement of main objectives of the course that should be demonstrated by students during the final oral examination