JJUA55084U International Law & the Use of Force - NOTE: Cancelled in the spring semester 2016

Volume 2015/2016

The course aims to expand the students’ abilities to identify, analyse and competently evaluate and decide relevant public international law problems central to the understanding of modern world conflicts and international law’s role in solving such conflicts. The course intends to do this by introducing students to the comprehensive body of international law commonly known as the Ius ad bellum which is intended to regulate and reduce the use of armed force in international relations between states.

It surveys the UN Charter system which forms the basis for today’s regulation and the exceptions to the ban on the use of force allowed by the Charter. The course also explores the role customary international law and state practice play in challenging the law of the Charter. While the course focuses on establishing the Ius ad bellum as law and not as politics, it also highligsts the significant role of international politics and legal philosophy in shaping this law. This will be shown by examining case studies into international crises and armed conflicts from the 1991 Gulf War to the most recent interventions in the Ukraine and in Iraq and Syria.


- Armed conflict and the UN Charter system. - The ban on the threat or the use of force.

- Collective security measures under the UN Charter. - Self-defence against states.

- Anticipatory and pre-emptive self-defence. - Self-defence against terrorists and other individuals.

- Humanitarian intervention.

- Responsibility to Protect.

- UN Peace Operations.

- Case studies into contemporary international crises and armed conflicts from the 1991 Gulf War to Syria and Iraq 2015

Learning Outcome


- Be able to describe and explain the main components of international law related to the use of force in international relations.

- Use the regulation in the UN Charter and other international law to analyse and discuss problems concerning the use of force.

- Interpret relevant treaties, Security Council resolutions and customary law.

- Identify correct legal solutions to relevant international law questions on the basis of the cases discussed.

- Identify and discuss the challenges to and the shortcomings of contemporary international law on the use of force.

- Understand and express the relationship betweeninternational law, international politics and legal philosophy related to the use of force.

- Be able to critically reflect upon issues of particular, contemporary relevance in the field of the law on the use of force, including anticipatory self-defence, humanitarian intervention and responsibility to protect.

- Explain and discuss relevant case studies on the use of international law in crisis and armed conflict as covered by the course.

- Communicate and formulate knowledge and arguments professionally and in a way that is structured and coherent.

Yoram Dinstein, War, Aggression and Self-Defence, Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Excerpts from Stephen C. Neff, War and the Law of Nations. A General History, Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Excerpts from Rosalyn Higgins, Problems & Process. International Law and How We Use it, Clarendon Press, 1995.

Additional Texts and Materials. Approximately 750 pp.

Students must be able to read, understand and speak English at an academic level. Students are expected to work in smaller groups between and during classes and to present selected cases during lectures.
Lectures, seminar groups and exercises.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 364,5
  • Seminar
  • 48
  • Total
  • 412,5
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20
Oral exam without preparation, 20 minutes
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Exam period

June 6 - 10, 2016 (Preliminary dates)


Please see the 'Academic calendar' under 'Exam' in the study pages