This seminar will introduce students to the law of armed conflict (LOAC), also known as international humanitarian law (IHL), with a focus on jus in bello, law governing how warfare is conducted. Students will explore core principles and concepts along with the evolution of the law of armed conflict before surveying selected topics, including: how to determine conflict, combatant, and civilian statuses; war crimes; targeting; rules of engagement; torture; cyberattacks; and issues with AI, autonomous weapons, drones, and targeted killing. Throughout the course we will consider contemporary LOAC challenges, examining topics in the context of current events. We will analyze and evaluate tensions between the principles of military necessity and humanity, political, military, and societal considerations, and differences in US and international state approaches. We will think critically about the rationales underlying, and practical applications of, key concepts of LOAC in the context of terrorism and in connection with past, current, and future conflicts.
Class will be centered on robust discussion informed by readings, response papers, and occasional media presentations. This class is open to all students interested in engaging the subject matter — a military, national security, or international law background is not required.