Accueil > Humanizing the waging of war? Introduction to International humanitarian law

DDRO 1800A - HUMANIZING THE WAGING OF WAR? Introduction to International humanitarian law

Type d'enseignement : Elective

Semester : Autumn 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English


Knowledge of general Public International Law is not necessary to explore what is probably the “darkest area” of law. Buckle up for the ride.

Course Description

Explore, question and understand the process put in place by international law with a view to humanizing the waging of war. This course seeks to provide an in-depth introduction to International humanitarian law (IHL); a subject matter formerly known as the “law of war” (or “the law of armed conflicts”). The field is relatively recent and the efficiency of its corpus has been harshly assessed in light of the devastating wars of the 20th century. Today, many scholars still see fit to label this area of the law as “oxymoric”. Its task is, indeed, difficult: promote the cohabitation of law and war, two domains often depicted – for the past two millennia – as mutually exclusive. As Cicero put it, inter arma silent leges (the law is silent in times of war). Although not entirely inaccurate, the criticism is over simplistic. IHL needs to be apprehended dispassionately while its assets and handicaps are to be weighed without preconception. This is precisely what this course seeks to achieve.


ATTAR, Frank D. (Avocat, Historien, Écrivain)

Course validation

Mandatory attendance (15%) + short oral presentation (40%) of compiled documents or essay (45%).


The lectures are formatted to accommodate questions, discussions and short oral presentations by students.

Required reading

A comprehensive reader will be made available shortly before the first session. Reading assignments are mandatory. Students eager to spoil the charm of the coming lectures may unveil the subject matter with any leading textbook on IHL (list available at