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Law, War and Human Rights

  • 8- week Monday evening (6.30-8.30pm) course run once a year, January - March
  • CPD accredited by the Law Society & Bar Standards Board - 2 points per class

This eight-week programme, carried out by way of a two-hour seminar each Monday evening, examines the laws of war and international criminal law from the perspective of international human rights law. It confronts the crucial questions: are human rights law, the laws of war and international criminal law three distinct disciplines? Have they now become so entwined that it is not possible fully to understand one without some knowledge of the other?

Humanitarian law, international criminal law and the law of human rights have many features in common. This course will make the links between these different strands of law and show how they work together and complement each other. It will also show where they are distinct and analyse why it is necessary to acknowledge that the three bodies of law are separate, despite the fact that the three strands work towards many of the same goals.

At the course's conclusion, participants will have a real grasp of how human rights law now informs all aspects of conflict and its aftermath, including terrorism and international crimes. A certificate of attendance from the Centre for the Study of Human Rights at LSE will be awarded to all those who have successfully completed the course.

Course components

  • The nature of armed conflict and the rules applying to the use of force
  • International armed conflicts and international humanitarian law
  • Human rights in non-international armed conflicts
  • Human rights, conflict and International Criminal Law
  • Women, war and conflict
  • Children and other ulnerable groups in war and conflict
  • Post conflict issues - reconciliation and protection
  • Terrorism, war and conflict

Why take this course?

  • Offers an in-depth analysis of law, war and human rights, including a detailed overview of international human rights standards relevant to war and conflict
  • Makes the links between the laws of war, international criminal law and human rights law
  • Offers access to leading human rights practitioners and academics
  • Explains the interaction between anti-terrorism laws and international human rights law
  • Engages with contemporary matters of great importance
  • Provides a strong theoretical understanding of some of the key issues of our times

Who should take this course?

This course is relevant not only to those who need to be able to apply the international human rights law framework to the law of war in their work, but also to those who are interested in the added value of human rights, and in discussing and analysing all of these issues.

For those involved in developing government policy and practice, the course will be of great strategic value. Military lawyers will be able to use the course to update their knowledge. Equally the course will be highly beneficial for those who hold government to account, including journalists, campaigners, politicians and those acting for victims of conflict. Academics and students will find the course highly rewarding as will those with a general interest in war and conflict and how it is being regulated.


The course is taught by a panel of distinguished experts. In 2014 they were:

  • Dapo Akande, Lecturer in Public International Law and Co-Director of the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict, University of Oxford.
  • Professor Christine Chinkin FBA, Professor of International Law at LSE, member of Matrix Chambers and member of the Kosovo Human Rights Advisory Panel constituted by UNMIK.
  • Professor Andrew Clapham, Professor of International Law at the Graduate Institute of International Studies Institute and former Representative of Amnesty International to the United Nations in New York.
  • Jessica Gavron, Senior lawyer at the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre at Middlesex University and Guest Lecturer at LSE in International Protection of Human Rights
  • Dr Jenny Kuper, Visiting Fellow at LSE and an expert on international humanitarian and human rights law relating to children/youth in war.
  • Dr Eric Metcalfe, barrister and former director of human rights policy at JUSTICE, with considerable expertise in the law relating to national security and counter-terrorism. 
  • Professor William A. Schabas, professor of international law at Middlesex University, editor-in-chief of Criminal Law Forum, President of the Irish Branch of the International Law Association and chair of the International Institute for Criminal Investigation. From 2002-04 one of three international members of the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The course is convened, and each session chaired, by Madeleine Colvin. Madeleine is a human rights lawyer who worked for several human rights organisations including Liberty and JUSTICE. She is the author of publications on surveillance and privacy. She is currently a human rights consultant and a part-time Immigration Judge. She is an Associate Tenant at Doughty Street Chambers, a member of the Ethics Group for the national DNA database, and a practising mediator focusing on equality issues.

Fees and administration

The standard course fee is £1,650.

LSE students, alumni and staff are entitled to a 10% discount on the standard course fee.

Subsidised places

The Centre is able to offer up to five subsidised (half price) places, at £825, in support of those who would otherwise be unable to take the course. 

Further queries

  • Discounts for group bookings may be possible, please contact Zoe to discuss.
  • Please note that while we welcome participants from overseas, the Centre is regrettably not able to provide any additional assistance, financial or practical, in the securing of travel to, or accommodation in, London.
  • Frequently asked questions about the course