The seminar will cover the law of war (or law of armed conflict) from the American Civil War to Bosnia, Rwanda, Cambodia, Africa, Libya and Syria, and other contemporary settings. The legal tools and standards to be addressed range from traditional war crimes and humanitarian law to such modern developments as crimes of aggression, complicity, and genocide, as well as civil damages for violations of human rights in war or peace. We will cover the doctrine of "just war" in its mediaeval and modern guises, national trials from Andersonville, the Lakota Sioux, and waterboarding in the suppression of the Philippine insurgency, to Eichmann, the My Lai massacre, and current international trials in The Hague, Arusha, and elsewhere. We also will examine the treaties on which these trials are based, starting with the slave trade suppression and Red Cross agreements and focusing on the Hague and Geneva conventions and especially the continuing attempts to reform the law of war by treaty in such areas as guerrillas, land mines, aerial bombing, environmental warfare, and gender crimes. The Nuremberg Trials (1945-49) marked the transition from the traditional to the modern law of war, and so the course will focus on Nuremberg, as well as other post-World War II civilian and military trials, by both occupying powers and newly liberated governments, in Europe and the Far East. The Nuremberg unit will focus not only on the legal responsibility of soldiers and their commanders, but also on the various sectors of the modern, industrialized nation at war: diplomats and other government officials, doctors, lawyers and judges, industrial leaders, and political and party officials. We conclude by focusing on the international criminal courts set up to punish war criminals and similar human rights violators in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leona, Cambodia, and elsewhere, on the use of political and legal (both civil and criminal) tools in various domestic courts against these offenders, on revitalized doctrines of military commissions and of restitution and reparations, and on alternative mechanisms for war crimes justice (truth commissions and political apologies).
Students may either take the final exam or write a term paper for either major or minor writing credit. Papers are especially welcome, but persons wishing to write must discuss their proposed topics in advance with the instructor.