Monday, September 19, 2011

Applications Sought: IHL Workshop for Law Students

I am pleased to alert law students interested in international humanitarian law (the law of armed conflict) that the application period is now open for the 6th Annual IHL Workshop co-hosted by my institution, Santa Clara University School of Law, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Details on this year's workshop can be found here. The application is available here.
The syllabus and agenda for last year's workshop are available here. A short video about the Workshop is available here.
Now in its sixth year, the Workshop is free to law students and will be held January 3 - 6, 2012, at Santa Clara University School of Law (left). The Workshop features faculty drawn from the ICRC, the U.S. Armed Services’ JAG Corps, lawyers from the Departments of Defense/State, and law professors specializing in humanitarian law and human rights. The Workshop involves a series of lectures as well as exercises on the various topics, including
  • when does IHL apply?,
  • conflict classification,
  • the direct participation in hostilities (DPH) doctrine,
  • target selection and proportionality,
  • protected persons,
  • internment/detention rules and regimes,
  • the interface of IHL with human rights law and the crime(s) of terrorism, and
  • war crimes prosecutions.
The Workshop includes three and a half days of instruction and culminates in a final simulation on Friday morning that consolidates the prior material in a real-world context. (The 2011 simulation--which involved negotiations surrounding law-of-war legislation for the United States--is discussed here; the 2010 simulation--involving the definition of terrorism--is discussed here). Participants who complete the program will receive a certificate of completion from the ICRC.
Because there is no registration or other fee, the only cost involves travel and lodging. We arrange for a block of hotel rooms at a discounted rate for students. Some law schools have assisted their students with these costs in the past.
The Workshop is quite competitive; in year's past, we have received over 100 applications for the 40 available spots. Nearly all of the students accepted were 2nd or 3rd year law students, and most had substantial experience in this field. As a result, we cannot guarantee that everyone who applies will be accepted, but we do appreciate recommendations for good candidates for the program. Our student evaluations are consistently high; all students attending last year agreed that the course was an excellent supplement to their legal education and a great opportunity to meet IHL practitioners and learn more about this important area of law.
IHL was once a somewhat obscure, technical, and highly specialized area of law. It now is a topic of everyday conversations. This process pre-dated the events of 9-11, but those attacks thrust IHL into a spotlight in which it has remained ever since. Indeed, not a day goes by when there is not a story in the major newspapers implicating IHL, and dozens of cases are proceeding in U.S. and foreign courts adjudicating IHL rules and treaties. Notwithstanding this greater attention to the field, misunderstandings persist about when IHL applies and what it dictates. This misinformation is found within the press, among government policymakers, within the general public, and among the judiciary and lawyers.
One of the goals of this course is to give future young lawyers the tools they need to understand and apply IHL, evaluate arguments and claims about IHL, and be effective advocates in situations and cases that implicate IHL. Given the globalization of law, a basic understanding of international law in general and of IHL in particular are an essential part of any lawyer’s legal literacy.
If you have questions about the program, please contact Elyse Segnit.


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