JJUA55088U Law and International Security in the 21st Century

Volume 2015/2016

The course is divided into five blocks:
1) Security and international terrorism

Contemporary security threats often relates to international terrorism. This bloc gives an overview of the development of terrorism from perceived freedom fighters to foreign terrorist fighters. How do we define terrorism and who is a foreign terrorist fighter? Are there international consensus on a definition and concept of terror? Is there a right to fight and resist illegitimate regimes and occupying States? How is terrorism regulated and fought in international law? Is it possible to commit acts of terrorism in armed conflict and how does international counter-terrorism law relates to international humanitarian law?

2) 21st century use of force' (jus ad bellum)

This part explores when a State can use armed force against another State and against non-state actors present on the territory of other States (Self-defence, mandate from the UN Security Council, humanitarian intervention and R2P) and examines the use of armed force in the last 10-15 years, including the ongoing use of force against the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq; the use of cyber attacks, etc.

3) Global War on Terror 2.0? (jus in bello) – International humanitarian law

This bloc examines international humanitarian law applicable in times of armed conflict. We will look at the first global war against terrorism (against al Qaeda) and assesses the legal issues related to the current conflict against the Islamic state. Is the conflict 'global'? Who are the combatants in the war? How to delimit the battlefield in armed conflict and civilian participation in hostilities? The US drone war, etc.

4) Human rights in 21st Century armed conflict

This bloc explores international human rights law vis-à-vis the current security threats. It is often argued that security concerns must overrule human rights. Is it possible to limit human rights obligations in times of crisis? Are human rights are applicable in situations of armed conflict and when States are involved in military operations on the territory of another State? And finally it will be discussed how human rights and international humanitarian law can interrelate in armed conflict.

5) Counter-terrorism and individual human rights

In the fifth and final substantive block we discusses the more specific interfaces between modern terrorism and individual rights, including the right to freedom of torture; freedom of expression, and the right to liberty and fair trial.

Learning Outcome

The aim of the course is to provide students with a basic understanding of the most important international legal issues associated with international security issues. The course will provide a background on the shift from deterrence to prevention in the management of security threats and examine contemporarry issues with regard to the use of force, the laws of war and human rights (such as modern drone technology and the emergence of cyber warfare). In addition, the course will focus on 21st century counter-terrorism and the legal implications of the current counterterrorism policies. The course will enable the students to analyse and critically reflect on contemporary legal questions with regard to international security.

Readings will be posted on Absalon

A fair knowledge of the English language is a minimum requirement. Students will be required to participate actively in class. Participants must have completed standard courses in basic Criminal Law and International Law
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Seminar
  • 48
  • Total
  • 48
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 minutes
Oral exam with preparation, 20 minutes
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Exam period

December 14 - 18, 2015 (preliminary dates)


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

Criteria for exam assesment

Examinations will be conducted orally. A relatively broad topic will be chosen at a random basis by the individual student. There will be 12-15 minutes time for preparation in camera. The actual examination will last for another 12-15 minutes. Three examinations will be conducted per hour, including assessment of the performance.