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Spring 2025 Course

Use of Force

Prerequisites: None. There are no prerequisites for the course, but if you have not taken any classes in public international law, there will be some additional background readings on basic concepts in international law (e.g., treaties, customary law, state responsibility), which you must complete before the beginning of the course.

Note: If you have already taken International Humanitarian Law/Laws of War you may not take this course.

Exam Type: One-Day Take-Home

The world is experiencing a wave of armed conflicts, from the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, worsening situations in Yemen, Syria, Ukraine and Nigeria, to the global “war on terror.” Allegations and counter-allegations of violations of international law abound. This course is devoted to the international regulation of the use of force between, within, and across states. We will study both the jus ad bellum(the law that governs the initiation of hostilities) and the jus in bello(the law that governs the conduct of hostilities). We will inquire into the historical, ethical, and strategic assumptions behind these legal doctrines, whether rooted in classical Just War Theory or challenged by geopolitical developments and technological innovation. Finally, we will attempt to imagine possible alternatives to contemporary regulation, considering their political feasibility and probable effects.