LOT1032 | Law of targeting: doctrine and critique

Course Information

  • 2020-21
  • LOT1032
  • 5-Year B.A., LL.B. (Hons.)
  • III, IV, V
  • Jul 2020
  • Seminar Course

This course seeks to provide an advanced and critical introduction to the international law rules which govern the conduct of hostilities in armed conflict. This is a large and complicated area of law and this course deliberately forsakes breadth for depth. After providing a contextualising introduction to international humanitarian law (IHL), the course will focus on key rules, concepts and controversies in the law of targeting, engaging with each from multiple perspectives.

The first objective of this course is for students to acquire a sophisticated understanding of the requirements of the selected rules and concepts, their implementation in the ‘fog of war’, and post-facto judicial assessments of compliance. The second objective is to critically analyse these rules and the outcomes they produce, from within the law, and also by drawing on concepts and perspectives which are not usually seen as being a part of mainstream positivist approaches. Through these two objectives it is hoped that students will not only acquire a thorough understanding of the selected topics but will also be empowered to engage substantively and critically with other aspects of IHL which are not covered in this course.

The course is divided into 10 topics, each of which will be discussed over the course of one week, i.e. over the course of two sessions of two hours each. For each topic or week, the first session will consider the topic from a doctrinal perspective, and the second will adopt a critical perspective. The 10 topics which will be discussed are: (1) introduction to IHL; (2) armed conflict; (3) distinction; (4) distinction – recent controversies; (5) proportionality; (6) precaution; (7) military necessity; (8) new technologies; (9) human rights on the battlefield; and, (10) the challenge of asymmetry. The key IHL rule of distinction has been spread over two weeks and four sessions because it has yielded a comparatively larger body of practice and discussion.

The course will be taught as a research seminar and will prioritise student participation and discussion during classes. The assigned readings include a mixture of primary and secondary sources.


Abhimanyu George Jain

Visiting Faculty