LLAW6058 Armed conflict, humanitarian law and human rights

1.1 Course details

Course code: LLAW6058 / JDOC6058
Course name: Armed conflict, humanitarian law and human rights
Programme offered under: LLM Programme / JD Programme
Semester: First
Prerequisites / Co-requisites: No
Credit point value: 9 credits / 6 credits
Cap on student numbers: 30

1.2 Course description

This course gives an introduction to the regulation of armed conflicts under international law. It begins with a theoretical enquiry into the morality of political violence in armed conflicts as sanctioned under international humanitarian law and then turns to the doctrinal law on the classification of armed conflicts and other situations of violence. The bulk of the course focuses on the legal rules governing the conduct of war and explores the relationship among international humanitarian law, international human rights law, jus ad bellum and international criminal law in complex factual scenarios. The course concludes by returning to theories and challenging course participants to reflect critically on the legal, moral and social significance of understanding a situation of political violence as an ‘armed conflict’.

1.3 Course teachers

Name E-mail address Office Consultation
Course convenor Ka Lok Yip ka.yip@graduateinstitute.ch N/A By email or in person

2.1 Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs) for this course

CLO 1 Understand, and be able to analyze, what amounts to an ‘armed conflict’ under international law.

CLO 2 Understand, and be able to analyze, the distinction between international and non-international armed conflicts under international law.

CLO 3 Evaluate, and be able to classify, a particular situation as an international armed conflict, a non-international armed-conflict or other situations of violence under international law.

CLO 4 Describe and explain different rules of international law applicable to different types of armed conflicts and other situations of violence, including jus ad bellum, jus in bello (or international humanitarian law or the law of armed conflicts), international human rights law, international criminal law and their inter-relationship.

CLO 5 Critically apply different rules of international law to concrete fact patterns of political violence.

CLO 6 Critically reflect on the legal and moral significance of classifying a situation as an ‘armed conflict’.

2.2 LLM Programme Learning Outcomes (PLOs) & Programme Learning Outcomes to be achieved in this course

PLO A On successful completion of the curriculum, students should be able to demonstrate a solid understanding of the body of legal knowledge and the capacity to conduct research on, critically analyse and evaluate legal principles, at a level required to meet the standards and expectations of the legal profession and the community at large.

PLO B On successful completion of the curriculum, students should be able to apply their legal knowledge and research skills to practical situations or theoretical challenges, and utilise their comparative understanding of the law and its political, social and cultural contexts to provide original and creative insights to legal problems.

PLO C On successful completion of the curriculum, students should be able to apply the knowledge, lawyering skills and legal reasoning to real and novel situations in life, with a view to resolving issues, problems and disputes within the legal parameters.

PLO D On successful completion of the curriculum, students should be able to demonstrate the ability to present effectively legal arguments in the professional context, as well as conveying and explaining the law effectively to lay clients and members of the larger community.

PLO E On successful completion of the curriculum, students should be able to appreciate the underlying moral values of the law and ethics in the profession and the legal system in the broad social, economic, political and cultural contexts: justice, the Rule of Law, and protection of rights and liberties which form the fabrics of a civilised society, and the importance of upholding these values by the legal community.

PLO F On successful completion of the curriculum, students should be able to develop a strong awareness of social issues and conditions, and utilise analytical abilities and rhetorical advocacy to provide leadership for the betterment of the human community.

2.3 Programme Learning Outcomes to be achieved in this course

PLO A PLO B PLO C PLO D PLO E PLO F
CLO 1  ✓  ✓
CLO 2  ✓
CLO 3  ✓
CLO 4  ✓
CLO 5  ✓
CLO 6  ✓  ✓

3.1 Assessment Summary

Assessment task Due date Weighting Feedback method* Course learning outcomes
Class participation For the entire duration of the course 10% 1, 5 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Simulated practice 27 Oct & 4 Nov 2020 40% (each weight 20%) 1, 4, 5 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Research paper End of term 50% 1, 2, 3 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
*Feedback method (to be determined by course teacher)
1 A general course report to be disseminated through Moodle
2 Individual feedback to be disseminated by email / through Moodle
3 Individual review meeting upon appointment
4 Group review meeting
5 In-class verbal feedback

3.2 Assessment Detail

Simulated practice:

There will be two simulated practice exercises.

Before the reading week and one week before the last class, a fact pattern of political violence will be distributed to the class and each student will be assigned a role (e.g. counsel to a party to an armed conflict/military commander/foot soldier/fighter/civilian/civil society organisation/international organisation/third state etc.) and will be asked a set of specific questions. For each simulated practice exercise, each student should submit a short position paper answering the specific questions in less than 800 words and present their arguments in a simulated international conference convened to address the situation. Depending on the final size of the class, students may or may not need to form any group.  If any group needs to be formed, efforts will be made to minimize the efforts and logistics for preparatory collaboration.

Each simulated practice exercise will be graded based on the students’ understanding of the content of the course and their ability to apply their knowledge in simulated practice by formulating and presenting legal arguments in support, as demonstrated in the short position paper and the interactive presentation and argumentation in the simulated conference. For each simulated practice exercise, the short paper will count towards 15% of the total course grade and the interactive presentation and argumentation will count towards 5% of the total course grade.

The simulated practice will also be an opportunity to deepen the students’ engagement with the course content and to reflect on different perspectives on the issues studied in the course.

Research paper:

Students are expected to choose a topic covered in the course and write a research paper of no more than 5000 words (including footnotes). Students should submit their proposed topic and outline (of no less than 500 words) no later than the end of week 10 for feedback and guidance. The deadline for submission of the research paper is the last day of the term.

The paper will be graded based on students’ understanding of the content of the course and their ability to apply their understanding to the research topic of their choice to make a coherent argument. Extra credit will be given to innovative research topics.

3.3 Grading Criteria

Please refer to the following link: http://www.law.hku.hk/course/grading-criteria/

4.1 Learning Activity Plan

Seminar: 3 hours / week for 12 teaching weeks
Private study time: 9.5 hours / week for 12 teaching weeks

Remarks: the normative student study load per credit unit is 25 ± 5 hours (ie. 150 ± 30 hours for a 6-credit course), which includes all learning activities and experiences within and outside of classroom, and any assessment task and examinations and associated preparations.

4.2 Details of Learning Activities

The first class and the second last class will be oriented towards theories while the other classes will focus on law and practice. The class after the reading week and the final class will be used to hold simulated conferences to give course participants the opportunity to review and reinforce what they have learnt on the course so far.

The course will be highly interactive. If any of the classes needs to be moved online, a special protocol will be made to ensure that each course participant will fully participate in class discussion even via video link.

At the beginning of the course, course participants will be invited to communicate their expectations on the course and suggest particular areas they would like to focus on in the course.

5.1 Resources

Core reading list: There is no single textbook. Please refer to the detailed course outline on Moodle.
Recommended reading list: Please refer to the detailed course outline on Moodle.

5.2 Links

Please refer to the following link: http://www.law.hku.hk/course/learning-resources/


By the publication of the course profile on-line, the Faculty deems the student as having been notified of the course requirements.