Numero di crediti :6

Semestre : 2° semestre

Humanitarian Affairs

Settore scientifico disciplinare : IUS 13

Numero di crediti :6

Tipologia corso:corso

lingua: inglese

Data inizio corso: Wednesday, 22 February, 2017

Semestre : 2° semestre

Iscrizione al corso : Closed
Obiettivi formativi:

The Course is aimed at providing students with the basic elements of the international humanitarian action, mainly from a legal perspective, but also from an institutional point of view. The programme will cover the historical evolution of the humanitarian endeavor, the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and the International Disaster Law (IDL). 

Contenuto e articolazione del corso:

The course is structured in 3 modules:

1 - The first module will deal with the historical evolution of the humanitarian action, from the classic age to its contemporary structure and functioning. Particular attention will be devoted to the United Nations institutional context, with a focus on its policies, its programs and on the activities of the organs that operate in this specific cross-sectoral domain (i.e. the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – OCHA).

2 - The second module will provide an in-depth overview of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) domain, also known as the law of armed conflicts. First, it will give a general knowledge of its main branches, its basic principles and on the applicability criterias of the related legal instruments. Thus, it will focus on the applicative dynamics in the contemporary armed conflict and on the role of the International Committee of the Red Cross. The concrete impact of the most important legal issues will be stressed by the references to case studies and real case scenarios. 

3 - The third module will explore contents and features of the International Disaster Law (IDL), one of the most recent legal domain concerning humanitarian activities. It will examine the main operational issues raised by the disaster management activities and the difficulties in retrace a universal legal framework, due to the lack of a so-called flagship treaty. Particular emphasis will be given to the role of soft law instruments elaborated trought the so-called "bottom-up approach", such as strategies, frameworks and guidelines. 


Conoscenze e competenze che saranno acquisite:

The objective is also to provide the students the methodology necessary to allow them to pursue specialized studies in the field of international law, development cooperation, and emergency response.

Prerequisiti ed eventuali propedeuticità:

A basic knowledge of International Law will be ad advantage, even though it is not necessary. 

Modalità di valutazione dell'apprendimento e prova d'esame:

Attender students will have the access to a previous written exam (multiple choices) that will exonerate them from part of the programme for the oral exam.

A chi è rivolto il corso:

Students interested in having a general knowledge of the history, evolution and functioning of the international humanitarian system, with a specific focus on the legal issues concerning roles and activities of the main humanitarian actors. 

Come ottenere la tesi:

Send an email to 

Metodi didattici:

Frontal lectures, partly integrated by audiovisual materials.

Modalità di valutazione della frequenza:

Signatures will be taken at the end of each lecture. The attendance to the 80% of the lectures (max. 5 absences) is necessary to be considered as attender student and to have access to the multiple choices written exam. 

Testi d'esame:

Programme for non-attenders

Module 1:

- Davey E et al., A history of the humanitarian system, Humanitarian Policy Group (HPG) - Overseas Development Institute (ODI), 2013, available here

Module 2:

- Melzer N., International Humanitarian Law: A Comprehensive Introduction, ICRC, 2016, available here

Module 3:

- IFRC, IDRL Desk Study - Summary Version, Geneva, 2007, available here

- De Guttry A., "Surveying the Law", in de Guttry, Gestri, Venturini (eds.), "International Disaster Response Law", 2012 available here  [download ONLY the specific chapter that is required]

Programme for attenders

Module 1: Materials sent by email

Module 2: Melzer N., International Humanitarian Law: A Comprehensive Introduction, ICRC, 2016, available here (covered chapters) and materials sent by email

Module 3: Materials sent by email

Support materials

- ALNAP, The State of the Humanitarian System, 2015, here

- OCHA (UN), Oxford Guidance on the Law Relating to Humanitarian Relief Operations in Situations of Armed Conflict, Oxford, 2016, here

Suggested readings and materials for in-depth researches

- Cubie D., The International Legal Protection of Persons in Humanitarian Crises, Exploring the Acquis Humanitaire, Hart, 2017, link

- Barnett M., Empire of Humanity. A History of Humanitarianism, Cornell University Press, 2011, link

- Michael Barnett, Thomas G. Weiss (eds.), Humanitarianism in Question. Politics, Power, Ethics, 2008, link

- Pat Gibbons, Hans-Joachim Heintze (Ed.), The Humanitarian Challenge 20 Years European Network on Humanitarian Action (NOHA), 2015, link

Video contributions 

ICRC, The Battle of Solferino 

TEDxRC2 - Fiona Terry - The Paradox of Humanitarian Aid

MSF - Kunduz One Year On | A history of the hospital

ICRC - Rules of war (in a nutshell)

New technologies and warfare. 6/9 Interview with Noel Sharkey

New technologies and warfare. 7/9 Interview with Marco Sassòli

ICRC urges concrete steps to protect health care in conflict



Materiali del corso: