PHAP Online Learning Series on Humanitarian Law and Policy – International criminal law and its role in addressing violations of IHL

How can international humanitarian law (IHL) be implemented and enforced? International criminal law (ICL) plays an important role in this respect, placing responsibility on individual persons for serious atrocities including genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression.

On 29 September, PHAP members and guests had the opportunity to delve into this topic with Chris Jenks, a law professor with previous experience in the U.S. Army and the co-editor of a forthcoming war crimes casebook. The session began with a briefing on ICL and its relevance to humanitarian actors, focusing on its core principles, main instruments, scope of application, and relationship with IHL. This was followed by an opportunity for Q&A and discussion.

Session recording (Adobe Connect - higher quality)

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Session recording (downloadable audio podcast)

Learning objectives

  • Appreciation of the relationship between international criminal law and humanitarian law, and the role of the former in supporting the enforcement of the latter.
  • Familiarity with the main legal instruments (e.g., treaties) and mechanisms (e.g., courts and tribunals) of the international criminal law framework.
  • Knowledge of the main elements of war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression.
  • Understanding of the jurisdictional scope as well as general legal principles of the international criminal law framework.
  • Appreciation of the challenges to the application of international criminal law in contemporary contexts.

Prerequisite knowledge

Recommended sessions:

1. Introduction to IHL and its relevance for humanitarian actors

3. The Fundamental Principles of IHL Regulating Hostilities: military necessity, distinction, and proportionality

4. Qualification of Armed Conflict and Determining the Applicable Law

8. International humanitarian law and human rights law in armed conflict

Recommended reading


PHAP members will have the possibility to undergo a two-part assessment after the session as part of the PHAP Continuous Learning Credits framework.

Part 1: Comprehension check

Part 2: Written reflection

To encourage peer learning among members, selected essay responses will also be published on the website, if approved by the writer. As a member, you can comment on the responses and read other members' comments.

Read the written reflections

Guest expert

Chris Jenks is an assistant professor of law and directs the criminal justice clinic at the SMU Dedman School of Law in Dallas, Texas. He teaches and writes on the law of armed conflict (LOAC) / international humanitarian law and criminal law. Professor Jenks is the co-author of a LOAC textbook and co-editor of a forthcoming war crimes casebook. He has published articles and book chapters on drones, autonomous weapons, child soldiers, extraordinary rendition, law of war based detention, targeting and government contractors.  Prior to joining the SMU faculty, Professor Jenks served for over 20 years in the U.S. Army, serving as as infantry office in Germany, Kuwait and Bosnia and later as a U.S. military lawyer in Korea and Iraq. In his last military assignment, he served as the chief of the US Army's international law branch in the Pentagon where he oversaw the foreign exercise of criminal jurisdiction over US service members around the world.He holds degrees from the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY (B.S.); the University of Arizona College of Law (J.D.); the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's School (LLM) and Georgetown Law School (LLM, double honors).

Event host

Elizabeth Holland
Consulting Expert on International Humanitarian Law, International Association of Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection (PHAP)



PHAP Credentialing Program

International Legal Frameworks for Humanitarian Action
This event will help you prepare for the PHAP Credentialing Program certification in International Legal Frameworks for Humanitarian Action.

In particular, the event will address segments 5.3 and 5.4 of the certification assessment outline. The event will also address some aspects of segments 5.2 and 5.5.

Read more about the PHAP Credentialing Program

September 29th, 2015 3:00 PM   through   4:00 PM

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