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International Criminal Law




Admissions requirements

Principles of Public International Law
Having taken a 200-level course from the appropriate track is recommended.


This course aims to provide an overview of international criminal law as a specific branch of public international law. The course traces the historical and theoretical underpinnings of the canon beginning with the Post-World War I "Leipzig Trials" progressing right through to the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the turn of the 20th Century, In so doing, considerable attention will be paid to the evolving theoretical and sociological foundations of international criminal justice, as well as the political circumstances which came to bear in the establishment of a multiplicity of international and internationalized criminal tribunals. While seeking to understand the object and purpose of international criminal prosecutions, the course will focus primarily on the continued development of the law relevant to the subject-matter jurisdiction of international courts and tribunals. Specifically, the course will examine in detail the law pertinent to war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and the crime of aggression. In getting to grips with the subject-matter jurisdiction of international criminal law, students will be required to digest and critically analyse selected jurisprudence from international and internationalized courts and tribunals. After having dealt comprehensively with the issue of subject-jurisdiction, the course will then examine the potential modes of liability (i.e, the basis on which an individual may be found individually responsible) which may be attached to these crimes, In this respect, the course will look at controversial issues surrounding the notions of joint criminal enterprise and superior responsibility. Allied to this will be consideration of the possible grounds for excluding criminal responsibility, that is, the possible defences that may be forwarded by accused individuals. The course will conclude with an examination of the challenges facing international criminal justice. In this regard, the course will look at issues such as prosecutorial discretion, the balancing of peace with the pursuit of justice, and the central importance of the principle of complementarity in the future development of international criminal law.

Course objectives


  • Master various methods of legal reasoning

  • Analyze statutes, cases and other sources of law

  • Discern relevant facts and apply legal principles to those facts


  • Understand the historical and current legal framework of international criminal law, including the institutions, subject-jurisdiction, modes or liability, defences and the principle of complementarity.

  • Appreciate the political and sociological context in which international criminal justice operates.

  • Critically analyze the contemporary challenges and debates relevant to international criminal law


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

Seminars (two 2-hour sessions per week, Weeks 1 - 7) will form the main body of this course, and a Blackboard site will support in-class discussion and debate as well as hosting readings and related multi-media material.

Students are required to take an active part in seminar discussions and may be called upon to present readings in class.


In-class participation and discussion of core readings – 15% – Ongoing Weeks 1-7
1500-word essay - 25% - week 3
Case note – 25% - week 6
Final research essay (3000 words) – 35% – Week 8


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Course textbook to be purchased by students: R. Cryer et al. International Criminal Law (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 3rd edn,, 2014)

Additional required reading material will be made available on Blackboard.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr. Joseph Powderly