International Humanitarian Law (LAWS6218)


How to limit and regulate violence in times of war is one of the most pressing challenges for international law. This unit explores the origins and purposes of humanitarian law; its scope of application (spatial, temporal and personal); the different types and thresholds of armed conflict (including international and non-international conflicts); the permissible means and methods of warfare (including the principles of distinction and proportionality, and specific weapons such as chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, cluster munitions, and landmines); the status and treatment of combatants and non-combatants and other categories (such as spies, mercenaries, 'unlawful combatants' and 'terrorists'); the protection of cultural property and the environment; the relationship between human rights law and humanitarian law; and the implementation, supervision and enforcement of humanitarian law (including the prosecution of war crimes, the role of Protecting Powers and the International Committee of the Red Cross, and national military law).

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


Mar 17, 18 & 31, Apr 1 (9-5)


class participation (20%) and 8000wd essay (80%)

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules


LAWS3483 or LAWS5183

Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.