Curriculum Guide · Courses
Law of War Seminar
J.D. Seminar 936 (cross-listed) | 2 credit hours
This seminar surveys the law of armed conflict (LOAC) and customary international law as it applies to warfare. From where does LOAC arise? What is a war crime – and who decides? What is “unnecessary suffering,” and what drives that legal determination? When does LOAC apply? Does it bind non-state actors? What are U.S. LOAC obligations, and how are they enforced? How does one distinguish captured unlawful combatants from prisoners of war? Where do military commissions come from, and who may be tried by them? Can a superior’s order constitute a defense to war crime charges? What is the U.S. position in regard to laser weapons? Land mines? Torture? Reprisals? What is an illegal order, and what should a soldier do if she receives one? What constitutes cyber-warfare? How may battlefield war crimes be prosecuted? What is the validity of military commissions? Is the “administrative detention” without trial of Guantanamo detainees lawful? These, and other issues, are addressed. Our inquiry will focus on the law applicable to today’s conflicts, whether internal, transnational, or international; whether involving armed opposition groups or the armed forces of States.
Strongly Recommended: Completion of International Law I prior to enrollment in this seminar.
Students may not receive credit for both this seminar and the International Law of Armed Conflict Seminar or War Crimes and Prosecutions.