The Law and Politics of Fencing the Use of Force

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Course Description

  • Course Name

    The Law and Politics of Fencing the Use of Force

  • Host University

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

  • Location

    Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  • Area of Study

    Political Science

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


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    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    When finalizing the course, students will have knowledge and understanding of
    - The prospects and problems of international law as an instrument of mitigating and overcoming inter-state war;
    - The historical context in which certain approaches concerning fencing the use of force developed
    - The prospects and problems of systems of collective security;
    - The prospects and problems of combining international law and political science in studying international security.

    The aim of this course is to introduce students to the changing international rules and regulations on the use of armed force from the perspectives of international law, history and political science/international relations.

    Over the course of human history, the nature of war and armed conflict has been changing frequently and dramatically. In addition to technology, these developments have been driven by changing ideas about just causes and legitimate ways of using armed force. Limiting the human costs of war has become an ever more powerful motive in designing and modifying the rules governing the use of force. The prime instrument of fencing the use of armed force has been international law. The course discusses the most important developments in the laws of armed conflict since the late Middle Ages, including just war theory, collective security and humanitarian interventions from an interdisciplinary perspective that builds on Public International Law and Political Science/International Relations. This interdisciplinary perspective allows a comprehensive understanding of the achievements and shortcomings in the laws and politics of fencing the use of force. Milestones under discussing include early modern concepts of just war, the balance of power system of the 19th century, the League of Nations, the United Nations system and recent efforts to promote a Responsibility to Protect.


    written assignment

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Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

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