Use of Force by States: Perspectives from Comparative Constitutional Law and International Law

Module code: LW7261

Module co-ordinator: Katja Ziegler

Module Outline 

This module introduces students to the key principles of constitutional law aspects of states’ resort to force in a comparative perspective. The focus of this module is not so much the legality of use of force under international law (i.e. the ius ad bellum or ius in bello), but treats this as a background issue. Instead, the module focuses on a trend and debates at national level in selected jurisdictions.

We will examine how national constitutional law increasingly imposes restraints on national executives to resort to the use of force and explore the arguments for and against such restraint and their theoretical framework (e.g. separation of powers, human rights). More specifically, it will consider restraints resulting from parliaments’ roles (democratic accountability, such as the need to involve national parliaments in military deployment decisions) and restraints resulting from courts’ roles (accountability based on the rule of law/human rights, such as the power and scope of courts to review foreign policy decisions relating to military deployment). We will also consider how international law begins to shape these forms of accountability and the interaction of national and international law in this area.

The module will therefore also consider the dialectic relationship between international law and national constitutional law (with a focus on intersectionality): how does international law inform trends to heighten accountability at national level? How do national legal systems contribute to the emergence of new rules of international law in regard to national constitutional law? The module will also to introduce students to comparative law methodology.

Teaching and Learning Methods

Seminars, Private Study and Blackboard VLE

Assessment Methods

  • Research Paper not exceeding 5,000 words including footnotes (80%)
  • Seminar presentation (20%)

Pre-Requisites

  • General Principles of International Law or proven record of having followed a course in International Law.
  • For Visiting Students: Previous knowledge of International Law and Consitutional Law of one legal system is required.