Law 566 - Laws of War & the War(s) on Terror

Jessica Peake

Jessica Peake

Director, International and Comparative Law Program
Assistant Director, the Promise Institute for Human Rights
LL.B. University of Sheffield, UK
LL.M. University of Leiden, the Netherlands
LL.M. University of Pennsylvania
S.J.D. University of Pennsylvania (pending)
Course Description:

The subset of international law relating to the conduct of war – known as international humanitarian law (IHL) or the law of armed conflict – plays a prominent role in contemporary debates about law and political violence across the world from Libya to Afghanistan, from Ukraine to Syria.  The institutions, discourses, and practices associated with IHL help shape contemporary debates about the use of force, provide a powerful language of legitimacy and de-legitimization, and structure decisions that may have crucial effects on international order and international human rights.

This seminar has two goals: first, to provide a basic introduction to IHL and second to explore some of the most pressing challenges that arise in the contemporary theory and practice of IHL, particularly in the post-September 11th context.  Topics explored will include: historical development, sources and fundamental principles and rules of IHL; the complementary nature of IHL and human rights law; means and methods of warfare and treatment of different categories of persons during conflict, including civilians and POWs; direct participation in hostilities; the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and other semi-autonomous weapons; humanitarian intervention; and the changing nature of war and specific challenges of “new wars.”  A background in or familiarity with public international law and/or international human rights is helpful, but not necessary, to participate in the seminar.


Course Learning Outcomes:

At the end of this course students will be able to:

    - Articulate an understanding of the key areas of IHL;
    - Understand the legal framework of IHL and be familiar with the sources of law;
    - Provide critiques of existing IHL debates;
    - Examine different fact scenarios and identify the applicable legal norms from a variety of stakeholder perspectives and argue for the application of those norms.

Course Information:
​Faculty Term Course Section ​Schedule ​Units Requisite Satisfies SAW
Jessica Peake 18F 566 SEM 1 W 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM 3.0 No Yes
Textbook Information:
Textbook for Fall 2018 SEM 1
Dinstein, Yoram The Conduct of Hostilities under the Law of International Armed Conflict  3rd ed.  
ISBN: 9781107544185. Cambridge University Press. REQUIRED $50.99