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  3. International Criminal Law

International Criminal Law (LAWS70033)

Graduate coursework level 7Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework Level 7
Subject codeLAWS70033
Availability(Quotas apply)
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Historical experience demonstrates that, without justice, it is exceedingly difficult to establish an inclusive and lasting peace. And yet, while States pay significant lip service to accountability, all too often it is the victim of real politik. This subject will explore why, how and when individuals can be held individually criminally responsible for serious international crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC), other international mechanisms, and national jurisdictions.

In addition to considering the substantive rules of international criminal law, students will explore a range of legal policy issues relating to the prosecution of serious international crimes, including through case studies on Kenya, Palestine, Burundi, the Rohingya, ISIS and the crime of aggression.

Drawing on the lecturer’s experience representing Australia in the ICC’s Assembly of States Parties, and the insights of other senior practitioners, the subject is focused throughout on contemporary issues of international criminal law that are of real relevance to practitioners and scholars alike.

Principal topics include:

  • The nature of law, war and crime, and the relationship between peace and justice
  • The development of international criminal law, including the contribution of the ad hoc international and mixed criminal tribunals
  • The Rome Statute crimes (genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression) and their relationship to customary international law
  • The modes of individual criminal responsibility and the defences recognised by international criminal law
  • The ICC’s structure and personal and temporal jurisdiction
  • The proceedings and practice of the ICC
  • The stakeholders of international criminal law (including victims, witnesses, defendants, States, civil society, the United Nations and the ICC’s Assembly of States Parties)
  • The role of the new ad hoc criminal mechanisms (the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for Syria and the Investigative Team for ISIL in Iraq), as well as efforts to ensure accountability for the downing of flight MH17
  • The prosecution of international crimes in national jurisdictions, including on the basis of universal jurisdiction

Intended learning outcomes

This subject will focus on individual criminal responsibility for international crimes, including both the substantive law and the range of mechanisms available for holding individuals to account.

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Understand the relationship between peace and justice
  • Be aware of the historical development of international criminal law and the contribution of the ad hoc international and mixed criminal tribunals
  • Possess an advanced, detailed, and integrated understanding of the Rome Statute crimes and the concept of individual criminal responsibility, as well as the broader law and practice of the ICC
  • Have a sophisticated appreciation of the relationship between national and international prosecutions
  • Have the cognitive and technical skills to examine, critically analyse and assess the effectiveness of the rules of international criminal law and the critiques of international criminal justice
  • Be an engaged participant in debates relating to emerging international criminal law issues and the challenges faced by the international criminal justice project
  • Have the cognitive and technical skills to generate critical and creative ideas for the further development of international criminal law
  • Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information about international criminal law to relevant specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • Be able to demonstrate autonomy, expert judgement and responsibility as a practitioner and student in the field of international criminal law.

Last updated: 10 September 2019