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Module SXL-4041:
International Criminal Law

Module Facts

Run by School of Law

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Tara Smith

Overall aims and purpose

International Criminal Law is a core module for students on the LLM In International Law (specialising in International Criminal Law & International Human Rights Law). It is a compulsory module for students on the LLM in Law and Criminology and the MA in Criminology and Law. This module will provide students with a balanced and thorough understanding of the fundamentals of International Criminal Law. It will take students through the evolution of modern International Criminal Law, the underlying policy and philosophical underpinnings, substantive international criminal law and substantive international criminal procedure. International Criminal Law will also engage in close examination of the leading international courts and tribunals and their work, without neglecting key decisions from domestic courts. In general terms, by the end of the course, students will emerge with a new, solid understanding of the evolution of International Criminal Law, its underlying principles and values, as well as many substantive rules.

Course content

Students taking International Criminal Law will receive a balanced and thorough understanding of the fundamentals of International Criminal Law, with focus on individual criminal responsibility for international crimes. Students will examine the relevant laws and leading cases ranging from the judgements of the International Military Tribunals at Nuremberg and Tokyo to the explosion of jurisprudence that began with the ad hoc tribunals in the 1990s, but without neglecting cases such as Eichmann, Barbie and Calley from the ‘quiet’ period of the Cold War. They will develop a thorough understanding of the elements of Aggression, War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity and Genocide. Some time will be devoted to the International Law of Armed Conflict, which is essential for a complete understanding of the concept of War Crimes. This course will also provide instruction in fundamental principles underpinning International Criminal Law, such as the rights to fair trial and due process, and other essential concepts of justice such as the principles of legality (nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege) and double-jeopardy (non bis in idem). Students will learn about the different forms of criminal responsibility as well as defences to crimes, jurisdiction and immunities that may prevent prosecution. It will be a balanced course, with the essential elements of history, theory, law and practice well covered. Students will be taught not just about the content of the rules, but also how to apply them, through examination of contemporary issues and situations of importance in International Law, and case studies. The approach taken in the course encourages critical thinking and reflection, as well the development of a global perspective.

As this course is open to MA students as well as LLM students, the content of the course may need to be adjusted depending on the level of legal background of the students.

Assessment Criteria

good

Displays accomplished ability within a specialized area of knowledge and skills, employing good quality skills to conduct research. Good work in this module will demonstrate a systematic knowledge and understanding of current issues in this field of study. It shows a critical awareness of current problems, much of which is at, or informed by thinking at, the forefront of the academic discipline. Work at this level shows a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to the student’s own research. It shows an ability to apply knowledge in an original way, and to use established techniques of research and enquiry to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline. The conceptual understanding evidenced in the work indicates that the student can evaluate advanced scholarship in the discipline. The work shows an ability to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them, and, where, appropriate, propose hypotheses.

excellent

Displays mastery of a complex and specialized area of knowledge and skills, employing advanced skills to conduct research. Excellent work in this module will contain the qualities recognized in good work, but will show them in a more consistent way, and at all points. It will demonstrate a systematic knowledge and understanding of current issues in this field of study. It shows a critical awareness of current problems, much of which is at the forefront of this academic discipline. Work at this level shows a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to the student’s own research or to advanced scholarship. It shows throughout an ability to apply knowledge in an original way, and to use established techniques of research and enquiry to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline. The conceptual understanding evidenced in the work indicates that the student can critically evaluate advanced scholarship in the discipline, and do so in a consistent manner. The work shows an ability to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them, and, where, appropriate, propose hypotheses.

threshold

Displays ability within a specialized area of knowledge and skills, employing appropriate skills to conduct research. Work at threshold quality demonstrates an adequate knowledge and understanding of current issues in this field of study. It shows a critical awareness of current problems, some of which is informed by thinking at the forefront of the academic discipline. Work at this level shows a developing understanding of techniques applicable to the student’s own research. It shows an ability to apply knowledge in an original way, and to use established techniques of research and enquiry to interpret knowledge in the discipline. The conceptual understanding evidenced by the work indicates that the student can evaluate scholarship in the field.

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of the history of the movement towards accountability for atrocities, and the role of International Criminal Law in moving towards a global Rule of Law.

  2. Demonstrate advanced understanding of the creation, functioning and decisions of the leading courts and tribunals that deal with International Criminal Law, for example, the International Criminal Court.

  3. Demonstrate an advanced conceptual understanding of what International Criminal Law is, whom or what it affects, the system within which it operates, and how that relates to the domestic legal system.

  4. Master the foundational concepts, principles and fundamental rules of International Criminal Law, and be able to put these into the context of contemporary international challenges.

  5. Critically examine, compare and evaluate the different theories and views of leading authorities, and develop their own perspectives about academic controversies.

  6. Engage directly with primary legal materials as well as advanced scholarly works, and be able to assess critically leading decisions of international courts and tribunals, and the contribution that these decisions have made.

  7. Identify the rules of International Criminal Law, critically evaluate and analyse them, and apply them appropriately to solve problems of an international nature (legal reasoning).

  8. Critically assess areas of legal controversy and competing interpretations of the law.

  9. Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of the challenges that this area of the law has faced and will continue to face.

  10. Develop and employ enhanced research skills by using traditional library sources involving books, journals and case reports, modern electronic facilities such as online databases and internet resources and multimedia.

Assessment Methods

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Private study 180
Lecture

The module will consist of 10 x 2 hour teaching blocks. Essential preparatory readings will be notified to students in advance or provided in advance of class. For each session, students will be expected to have prepared essential reading together with any special assignments given for that particular class. Most of the readings that are set will come from the core text, with some additional readings. The instructor will consolidate that initial foundational understanding with lecturing and explanation of complex issues of theory, law and practice and contextualise the teaching in discussions using real life examples. Audiovisual materials may be used to enhance the learning experience. Students will be expected to be able to engage in dialogue about substantive issues for each class, and be actively engaged in class activities such as mock ‘moots’ on leading cases and group presentations that will enhance their understanding.

20

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • demonstrate the ability to work with others in a team to achieve reasoned, critical, comparative perspectives upon legal questions.
  • present reasoned, critical, comparative responses to the views of others on legal subjects within a Welsh, United Kingdom, European and/or global context;
  • present to others from a specialist or non-specialist background, reasoned, critical, comparative presentations relating to legal subjects within a Welsh, United Kingdom, European and/or global context;
  • Students will acquire knowledge and understanding of basic principles, advanced level theories and explore the many traditional and contemporary challenges in International Law. They will receive a balanced education in the relevant law, theory, politics and practice.
  • Students will also acquire expertise within the particular programme on which they are enrolled. Careful guidance over optional module choices and close supervision of dissertations will ensure that the students fully develop expertise in the area of interest.
  • Students will be taught through a range of methods, balancing theory and practice, and aiming at developing critical thinkers able to respond to the intellectual and professional challenges facing contemporary International Lawyers.
  • write sustained critical expositions of any given area of the legal subjects studied and present the findings clearly, logically and coherently;

Resources

Talis Reading list

http://readinglists.bangor.ac.uk/modules/sxl-4041.html

Reading list

The compulsory text is Robert Cryer, Håkan Friman, Darryl Robinson, and Elizabeth Wilmhurst, An Introduction to International Criminal Law and Procedure (3rd edn., Cambridge: CUP, 2014). This is available as an e-book from the library for your convenience; there are also several hard copies available in the library. Please note that this is a rather basic core text and MUST be supplemented with the compulsory reading for each class.

International criminal law is a vast and rapidly expanding subject, and there are several key texts in the field. Along with the compulsory text, the following books cover a great deal of the material (but not all) that we shall study in this course:

  • Ilias Bantekas and Susan Nash, International Criminal Law (2nd edn, London: Cavendish, 2003)
  • Ilias Bantekas, International Criminal Law (4th edn, Oxford: Hart, 2010)
  • Antonio Cassese, International Criminal Law (2nd edn, Oxford: OUP, 2008)
  • Antonio Cassese et al (eds), International Criminal Law: Cases and Commentary (Oxford: OUP, 2011)
  • Mark Klamberg (ed), Commentary on the Law of the International Criminal Court, online at http://www.casematrixnetwork.org/cmn-knowledge-hub/icc-commentary-clicc/
  • Kriangsak Kittichaisaree, International Criminal Law (Oxford: OUP, 2001)
  • William A. Schabas, Yvonne McDermott and Niamh Hayes (eds), The Ashgate Companion to International Criminal Law: Critical Perspectives (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013 (forthcoming))
  • William A. Schabas, Unimaginable Atrocities: Justice, Politics and Rights at the War Crimes Tribunals (Oxford: OUP, 2012)
  • William A. Schabas and Nadia Bernaz (eds), The Routledge Handbook of International Criminal Law (London: Routledge, 2011)
  • William A. Schabas, The International Criminal Court: A Commentary on the Rome Statute (Oxford: OUP, 2010)
  • William A. Schabas, An Introduction to the International Criminal Court (Cambridge: CUP, 2007)
  • William A. Schabas, The U.N. International Criminal Tribunals: The Former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone (Cambridge: CUP, 2006)
  • Gerhard Werle, Principles of International Criminal Law (The Hague: TMC Asser Press, 2005)
  • Alexander Zahar and Goran Sluiter, International Criminal Law: A Critical Introduction (Oxford: OUP, 2008)

Courses including this module