LLAW6036 & JDOC6036

General Course Information

1.1 Course details

Course code: LLAW6036 / JDOC6036
Course name: International Criminal Law
Programme offered under: LLM Programme / JD Programme
Semester: First
Prerequisites / Co-requisites: Not applicable
Credit point value: 9 credits / 6 credits

1.2 Course description

International criminal law is an extremely topical, relevant and increasingly controversial area of international governance. This course explores the rationale, origins, normative development, institutional mechanisms and role of international criminal law. It analyses the current state of international criminal law and its place in the modern international legal system in light of important recent developments. It discusses why States should reform their national criminal laws to accord with international developments and focuses on both the substantive and procedural law. It examines relevant international legal concepts, general principles of international criminal law, and how international criminal tribunals function. It considers particular international crimes, participation in such crimes, defences, and important recent cases. To do this, we trace the roots of international criminal law in customary laws of war and early attempts to enforce rules prohibiting war crimes, before reviewing the operation of the Nuremberg and Tokyo International Military Tribunals that were established after the Second World War. We then take account of the Geneva Conventions, 1949, and the rise of international human rights law, focusing on the crimes of aggression, genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.  We then delve into the law and practice of the ad hoc International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and relate their establishment and operation to the emerging system of international criminal law, and the process under way to establish the International Criminal Court.

1.3 Course teachers

Name E-mail address Office Consultation
Course convenor Steven Freeland s.freeland@westernsydney.edu.au N/A  By email

Learning Outcomes

2.1 Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs) for this course

CLO 1 Demonstrate a comprehensive grasp of the fundamental principles of international criminal law, including an understanding of the issues involved in the regulation of international crimes.

CLO 2 Critically evaluate the principal institutions of the international criminal legal system and explain their procedures at the international level and the principle sources of law that they apply in resolving disputes.

CLO 3 Describe the major differences between international and national law in dealing with acts that constitute international crimes.

CLO 4 Assess the major challenges/weaknesses/effectiveness to/of the international criminal law and the international criminal legal system.

CLO 5 Apply principles of international criminal law to contemporary issues by problem solving.

CLO 6 Research develop, refine and produce short written essays and make presentations to the class that demonstrate clear, well structured, appropriately referenced, critical analysis and arguments about salient points of international criminal law.

2.2 LLM and JD Programme Learning Outcomes (PLOs)

Please refer to the following link:

LLM – https://course.law.hku.hk/llm-plo/

JD – https://course.law.hku.hk/jd-plo/

2.3 Programme Learning Outcomes to be achieved in this course



3.1 Assessment Summary

Assessment task Due date Weighting Feedback method* Course learning outcomes
72-hour take home exam 25 Oct 2021 100% 4 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
*Feedback method (to be determined by course teacher)
1 A general course report to be disseminated through Moodle
2 Individual feedback to be disseminated by email / through Moodle
3 Individual review meeting upon appointment
4 Group review meeting
5 In-class verbal feedback

3.2 Assessment Detail

To be advised by the convenor(s).

3.3 Grading Criteria

Please refer to the following link: https://www.law.hku.hk/_files/law_programme_grade_descriptors.pdf

Learning Activities

4.1 Learning Activity Plan

Seminar: 3-hours seminars in an intensive mode in January 2021
Private study time: 9.5 hours / week for 12 teaching weeks

Remarks: the normative student study load per credit unit is 25 ± 5 hours (ie. 150 ± 30 hours for a 6-credit course), which includes all learning activities and experiences within and outside of classroom, and any assessment task and examinations and associated preparations.

4.2 Details of Learning Activities

To be advised by convenor(s).

Learning Resources

5.1 Resources

Textbook: Cassese A, Aquaviva G, Fan M and Whiting A (eds), International Criminal Law: Cases and Commentary (Oxford University Press, 2011) – please check if there is an updated edition

Prescribed Readings posted on HKU student platform

The Lecturer may from time to time also provide selected additional reading material to the class during the semester.

Recommended Reading (students are not required to purchase these):
  • Bassiouni MC, Crimes Against Humanity in International Criminal Law  (Kluwer Law International, 2nd ed, 1999)
  • Brownlie I, Principles of Public International Law (Oxford Uni Press, 8th ed, 2012).
  • Cassese A, International Law (Oxford Uni Press, 2nd ed, 2005)
  • Evans MD (ed), International Law (Oxford Uni Press,3rd ed, 2010)
  • Klip A and Sluiter G (eds), Annotated Leading Cases of International Criminal Tribunals, Volumes 1 – 42 (Intersentia, 2000 – continuing)
  • Schabas WA, An Introduction to the International Criminal Court  (Cambridge University Press, 4th ed, 2011)
Legislation: Significant International Legislation/Treaties include:

  • 1945 United Nations Charter, opened for signature 26 June 1945, 1 UNTS 16; 59 Stat.1031 (entered into force 24 October 1945)
  • 1945 Statute of the International Court of Justice, opened for signature 26 June 1945, 1 UNTS 16, 59 Stat. 1031 (entered into force 24 October 1945)
  • 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations General Assembly Resolution 217A (III) (10 December 1948) UN Doc A/810 on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, opened for signature 9 December 1948, 78 UNTS 277 (entered into force 12 January 1951)
  • 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, opened for signature 17 July 1998, 2187 UNTS 3; 37 ILM 999 (entered into force 1 July 2002)
Key weblinks:

5.2 Links

Please refer to the following link: http://www.law.hku.hk/course/learning-resources/