JJUA55038U International Criminal Law and Procedure

Volume 2023/2024

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.
  • Genocide. CASE STUDIES: ICTR Akayesu case, ICTY Karadzic case (Srebrenica), and the ICC Situation in Darfur (Omar Al Bashir case).
  • War crimes. CASE STUDIES: Israel-Gaza, Libya, Syria, Georgia and Ukraine.
  • Crimes against humanity. CASE STUDIES: Post-election 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 in the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
  • Principal and accomplice modes of criminal liability in international criminal courts and tribunals.
  • Immunities in international law. CASE STUDIES: ICJ Arrest Warrant Case (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Belgium); ICJ Case Concerning Questions Relating to the Obligation to Prosecute or Extradite (Belgium v. Senegal); Pinochet (UK House of Lords); Taylor (SCSL); and Omar al Bashir (ICC).
  • 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, and 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. The ICC victim participation framework.


Depending upon the geographical representation of students, the last two lectures will be dedicated to the prosecution and adjudication of core international crimes in national jurisdictions. 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, 4th ed, 2019).

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


It is illegal to share digital textbooks with each other without permission from the copyright holder.

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.
It is desirable that students have completed a basic course in Public International Law and/or Criminal Law. A fair knowledge of English is a minimum requirement.
Student presentations and class discussion of major cases
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 356,5
  • Seminar
  • 56
  • Total
  • 412,5
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)

Feedback on assignments (individual and collective)

Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 minutes
Type of assessment details
Oral exam with preparation, 20 minutes
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Exam period

Fall: week 51 - Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday

Spring: week 22 - Wednesday, Thursday, Friday


Fall: week 5 - Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

Spring: week 33 - Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday

Criteria for exam assesment

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