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8 Sep 2023
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International Humanitarian Law - 2023

To be confirmed
4 Weeks
Programme Area
Peace Security and Diplomacy, Multilateral Diplomacy, International Law
Public – by registration
Mode of Delivery
Multilateral Diplomacy
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War remains a matter of great concern to humanity. Recent conflicts have demonstrated that the ravages of war continue to have a devastating impact especially on the civilian population.  
War might be the “end of the law” as one said, but International Law is not silent on armed conflicts. In particular, international humanitarian law has been an essential framework promoting the values of humanity and ensuring that even in the midst of conflict, certain moral and legal standards are upheld.

From its conception in 1859 on the battlefield of Solferino to contemporary warfare, modern International Humanitarian Law (IHL) has been confronted with significant challenges. Since the times of horses and bayonets to drones and other ‘Lethal Autonomous Weapons System’ (the so-called “killer robots”), the IHL has always had the purpose of regulating the means and methods of warfare in order to limit human suffering and protect human rights. The development and sophistication of weapons has made it paradoxically problematic to distinguish between civilians and combatants in order to better protect the former. In addition, the proliferation of non-international armed conflicts (civil wars) and the emergence of new forms of armed conflicts, i.e. the “war on terrorism”, pose new challenges to the protection of civilian persons and goods.  

The course is aimed to provide participants with an advanced knowledge of IHL and to offer an innovative analysis of the legal uncertainties surrounding new-age military capabilities namely drones and other weaponry systems.  

At the end of the course participants will be able to:

  • Identify the principles and rules, sources and sanctions of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). 
  • Determine the scope of applicability of IHL with regard to the applicability of Human Rights Law and unconventional conflicts such as terrorism. 
  • Analyze the core principles guiding the means and methods of warfare and assess their efficacy regarding modern weapons namely drones and ‘killer robots’.  
  • Discuss the fundamental knowledge of protection granted to the victims of war, combatants and civilian persons and goods. 
  • Critically analyze how IHL overall responds to emerging challenges.
  • Module 1: Introduction to International Humanitarian Law: Principles, Sources and Sanctions
  • Module 2:  Applicability of International Humanitarian Law: Scope of Applicability and Relationship with Human Rights
  • Module 3:  The “Hague Law” : Conduct of Hostilities- Classical Regulations Meet New Means of Warfare: Drones, Killer Robots
  • Module 4:  The “Geneva Law”: Protection of the Victims: Civilian Victims, Combatants, Protective Emblems and the Role of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement  


This course promotes an interactive approach through lessons and multimedia material, stimulating critical thinking.  Each module has its own learning objectives, as well as interactive online lessons, which guide participants through the contents. The lessons are also available in PDF format so participants can work offline. Contents and activities are practice-oriented and under a self-assessment approach, so participants will learn through practical examples and assignments associated with research and case scenarios. This experience will be supported by the UNITAR team, additional resources and material, and visuals such as infographics and videos.

Kindly note that the course will only take place if the minimum number of participants has been reached. The Course schedule is subject to change. The course fee is non-refundable but transferrable to another course or participant and subject to change as per UNITAR's policy on pricing.