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April 14, 2022


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This course, The use of force in international law, is designed to provide you with an introduction to one of the contentious topics in public international law: the use of force.

In this course, you will explore international rules governing the use of force, including an introduction to the laws of war (International Humanitarian Law). Finally, you will also consider the dilemma of humanitarian intervention, which you can later apply in the game Saving Setrus.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • Explain the rules governing the law on the use of force and their evolution
  • Analyse case examples relating to the use of force in international law and be able to critically analyse how the rules of international law have been (mis)applied in particular situations
  • Understand how international law regulates the conduct in wars of both international and non-international character
  • Comment on the key challenges to the operation of the rules on the use of force in the contemporary international setting
  • Demonstrate enhanced skills and confidence in conducting research in international law.

Course Curriculum

  • Introduction 00:10:00
  • Learning outcomes 00:07:00
    • History of the law on the use of force 00:20:00
    • The post-1945 legal framework 00:15:00
    • The use of force authorised by the UN Security Council 00:15:00
    • The use of force in self-defence 00:20:00
    • Criteria for self-defence 00:15:00
    • Self-defence against non-state actors 00:15:00
    • The law of armed conflict 00:20:00
    • Overview of international humanitarian law 00:10:00
    • Historical development of IHL 00:10:00
    • The Law of The Hague and the Law of Geneva 00:10:00
    • Types of armed conflict 00:20:00
    • The main principles of IHL 00:20:00
    • Protection of civilians 00:20:00
    • Special protection under IHL 00:20:00
    • Humanitarian intervention and the responsibility to protect 00:07:00
    • What is humanitarian intervention? 00:20:00
    • The dilemma of intervention 00:20:00
    • Beyond humanitarian intervention: some of the critical points 00:15:00
    • Responsibility to protect 00:15:00
    • Conclusion 00:10:00

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Open University UK