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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Frederick M. Lorenz
SISME 420
Seattle Campus

International Humanitarian Law

Investigates International Humanitarian Law (sometimes called the Law of Armed Conflict), the field concerned with rules developed by civilized nations to protect the victims of armed conflict, including the Geneva Conventions. Case studies include the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as developments in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Class description

INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW The course will begin with an introduction to the basic principles of international law and the historical development of rules developed by civilized nations protect the victims of armed conflict, including the Geneva Conventions. In 2011 we will use a new text book, The Law of Armed Conflict, International Humanitarian Law in War, by Gary D. Solis, Cambridge University Press, 2010. The international criminal tribunals will be reviewed, as well as the current status of the Yugoslav Tribunal (ICTY), and The International Criminal Court (ICC). There will be a discussion of the war against terrorism, and the legal basis for action pursued by the US. Case studies will include the recent prisoner abuse allegations, and the classification of detainees as "unlawful combatants.". Efforts to control cluster bombs, and the proliferation of small arms will be discussed as well. A major part of the discussion will include current issues in the Middle East.

Student learning goals

To understand the challenges in the protection of victims of armed conflict and placing limits on warfare.

To understand the dynamic relationship between politics, human rights, and international law.

To appreciate the difficulty of applying international law to particular factual situations.

To sharpen the analysis of current events, and how the law works in its daily practical application.

To improve student skills in writing and critical thinking

General method of instruction

The course will include a combination of lecture and classroom discussion, and role playing “exercises” in the last weeks of the course. During the exercises students will present arguments on controversial topics from different points of view.

Recommended preparation

There are no prerequisites for this course, although an interest in the law and a currency with international news will be very helpful.

Class assignments and grading

This is a writing course with three papers assigned, two five page and one ten page, for a total of 20 pages, and no final exam.

Each short paper will be 20% of the grade, and the final paper will be 40%. Class participation will be 20% of the final grade, this will include the oral presentation in the exercises during the last part of the course.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Frederick M. Lorenz
Date: 02/16/2011