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Course E032: Armed Conflict, Human Rights and Humanitarian Law

29 October-9 December 2014 (E03214) | Register for this course (page opens in new window)
Instructor: Dr. Gerd Oberleitner

This e-learning course provides participants with advanced knowledge of international humanitarian law and human rights law in armed conflicts. It puts the law of armed conflict in a larger context, traces recent developments and examines how the law responds to contemporary trends in and challenges to regulating the conduct of hostilities, mitigating the consequences of the use of armed force and protecting civilians in armed conflicts and other situations of violence and insecurity. It builds on HREA's International Humanitarian Law (Foundation Course) and critically examines the changing nature of warfare and how it challenges the law. The course will allow learners to refresh their knowledge of international humanitarian law, discuss the role of law in contemporary situations of armed conflicts between, within and across states and learn about the role of human rights in armed conflicts and their interplay with international humanitarian law. Participants will discuss current challenges and trends in the protection of civilians and learn about international criminal jurisdiction for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The course also examines two fields of particular practical relevance: the place of human rights and humanitarian law in multi-national peace and stability operations, and the role of human rights and humanitarian law for humanitarian actors working in conflict zones.

This advanced certificate course involves approximately 30 hours of reading, interaction with students and the instructor in the Learning Forum discussion, quizzes and webinars. The course is based on a participatory, active learning approach, with an emphasis on critical reflection and peer-to-peer learning. The maximum number of course participants is 25. Students who successfully complete the course will receive a Certificate of Participation. It is also possible to audit the course.

Course outline

Week 1. International humanitarian law: a refresher
Week 2. Human rights in armed conflicts
Week 3. The protection of civilians: challenges and trends
Week 4. Peace operations, human rights and humanitarian law
Week 5. Humanitarian action and humanitarian law
Week 6. International criminal jurisdiction and armed conflicts

About the instructor

Dr. Gerd Oberleitner is professor of international law at the University of Graz (Austria), where he works at the Institute of International Law and International Relations. His research interests are primarily in international human rights law, humanitarian law, human security and the law of international organisations. From 1998 to 1999 he served as Legal Adviser in the human rights and humanitarian law department of the Austrian Ministry for Foreign Affairs and has in subsequent years joined the Austrian governmental delegation to sessions of the (then) UN Human Rights Commission. From 1999 to 2002 he was the Executive Secretary of the European Training and Research Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (ETC) in Graz. From 2002 to 2004 he was Lecturer in Human Rights at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and subsequently Visiting Fellow at the LSE’s Centre for the Study of Human Rights until 2007. He was visiting professor/scholar at the University of Prishtina, the European Inter-University Centre Venice and the Université du Quebéc à Montréal. For more than fifteen years, he has taught international law and international human rights law in a number of institutions and summer schools and in the Venice and Sarajevo Master Programmes on Human Rights and Democratisation. He has been an instructor for HREA e-learning courses since 2003. His publications include Global Human Rights Institutions: Between Remedy and Ritual (Cambridge, Polity, 2007) and Human Rights in Armed Conflict - Law, Practice, Policy (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).

Who should apply

The course is aimed at practitioners and professionals who want to gain knowledge in the field of the law of armed conflict, university students of international law, international relations, politics and other areas and NGO staff members. Participation in the HREA's International Humanitarian Law (Foundation Course) before taking this course is highly recommended. Participants should have a good written command of English and have high competence and comfort with computer and Internet use. HREA aims to ensure equal gender and geographical distribution across the selected participants. The maximum number of course participants is 25. It also possible to audit the course. A Certificate of Participation will be awarded upon successful completion of the course.


Tuition fee for participants: US$ 575; tuition for auditors: US$ 215. There are no scholarships or discounted tuition rates available for this course.

Payments can be made online by major credit cards (Discover, MasterCard, Visa), PayPal, bank transfer, and money transfer (Western Union, MoneyGram). Bulk rates are available.


Register for this course (page opens in new window). Registrations are accepted on a first-come-first-served basis. There is no registration deadline, but please be aware that courses generally fill up quickly!

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