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Law and Security


Admission requirements

This course is part of the minor Security, Safety and Justice, taught at The Hague by a lecturer from Leiden University. The course can only be taken within the framework of participation in the minor SSJ.


Security and (international) law are very interlinked. Terrorism, cyber attacks, military interventions, cross border criminality, … all require a strong reaction from both society and government. New technological breakthroughs enable security measures to become more refined and commonplace, but also lead to ethical questions. The rule of law offers a framework in which citizens and government can agree on rules, so that government can play its role.

The central theme in this course is the dilemma that government faces more and more often: the dichotomy between providing security on the one hand, and respecting human rights on the other hand. Since the 9/11 attacks, this tension has become the most visible in counterterrorism measures. The revelations of Edward Snowden have questioned the legality of a broad surveillance network by intelligence services. Are these necessary measures that have to be taken even by democratic countries where the rule of law is maintained? Or are we facing the dawn of a surveillance state?

However, this tension is also visible in many other security issues, such as for example the “regular” fight against criminality. What about ethnic profiling, the right of free speech, even if this speech is inflammatory, the use of special surveillance techniques?

This course will highlight these and other dilemmas, and will offer theoretical and practical insights into them. Students will become familiar with the primary tenants of the rule of law, and their link with security policies. They will be invited to think critically about the tension between security and law.

Course objectives

At the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify the central tension between security and law in a theoretical way.

  • Identify the relationship between the citizen and the state in a historical perspective, and analyze it critically. Particular attention will be given to security issues and the implications for the rule of law.

  • Produce knowledge on the basis and the functioning of the Dutch state, as an example of a “Rechtsstaat”.

  • Analyze a concrete example of the dilemma between providing security and respecting human rights, and provide a policy advice on this example.


To be announced

On the front page you will find a link to the timetable

Mode of instruction

The course consists of seven classes. Participation is mandatory.

Course Load

The total study load for this course is 140 hours, consisting of:

  • contact hours: 14

  • self study: 126

Assessment method

  • Students are expected to actively participate in class.

  • Students are expected to do a group assignment in weeks 3 to 7. This group assignment will consist of a number of questions related to the next topic. At the start of each lecture, the different answers will be discussed in class (25% of the final grade).

  • Students will have to make an individual final paper, analyzing a real life case according to a theoretical framework. The paper takes the form of a policy brief, where an alternative to a policy proposal is discussed (75% of the final grade).

  • Participation in lectures, discussions and exercises is required in order to obtain a grade. Student presence and participation is required and all assignments/exercises have to be fulfilled (though not necessarily passed, see below). One lecture can be missed. If a second lecture is missed, an assignment will be given to compensate. If a third lecture is missed, a passing grade can no longer be obtained, unless permission is granted from the Board of Examiners (with consent of the lecturer).

  • Compensation is allowed for the group assignment. The individual policy proposal cannot be compensated, so a minimum of 5.5 is expected to pass, as well as an overall passing grade.

  • Retakes consist of rewriting the original individual policy proposal. The group assignments cannot be retaken.


Blackboard will be used, and made available at least a week before the start of the first class

Reading list

Will be made available via Blackboard.


Use both uSis and Blackboard to register for every course. Register for every course via uSis. In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results. Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course.

Also register for every course in Blackboard. Important information about the course is posted here.


Dr. Joery Matthys
Institute of Security and Global Affairs
Wijnhaven building
Turfmarkt 99
2511 DP Den Haag
Room 4.03


All sessions will be in English.
Group assignments and individual paper need to be written in English.
Lectures take place at The Hague and are mandatory (see also: assessment).