Other Thematics


Thematic Seminar: Violence and its Impact on Health

(c) UN Photo/UNHCR/R LeMoyne

Next session: September 23 - 27, 2019

In the contexts in which humanitarian emergencies unfold, the legal situation can be complex. How can international law help advance humanitarian objectives, to get access to populations in need, for example? What legal instruments apply in different situations of armed violence and who do these instruments protect?

Actors may use the law to present their actions in the best light possible or to discredit others. Humanitarian projects can become entangled in this situation – to steer a clear path and use international law to advance humanitarian objectives, humanitarian workers need a good legal grounding. This seminar provides an introduction to the legal protection of victims of armed conflict and the work of UN human rights mechanism, among other topics.

This short course is developed jointly with the International Committee of the Red Cross.


Explore the law governing the recourse to armed force among states and international humanitarian law as they pertain to humanitarian action. Explain the responsibility to protect, and the legal framework of humanitarian access; and apply human rights law in times of emergency and armed conflict.

By the end of the seminar, participants will be able to:

  • Identify key norms and instruments of international law relevant to humanitarian action
  • Apply the law in concrete situations and use it to further humanitarian objectives

Learning outcomes in terms of knowledge - Understanding of

  • The main rules of international law pertaining to humanitarian action
  • The rights of individuals and the correlative obligations of states under international law
  • The main international legal mechanisms for the protection of human rights and international humanitarian law

Learning outcomes in terms of skills - Capacity to

  • Able to apply the relevant rules of international law in a specific case and integrate legal considerations into a humanitarian intervention strategy

Learning outcomes in terms of analytical competences - Ability to

  • Analyse a humanitarian action problem from a legal perspective
  • Critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of approaching a humanitarian action problem from a legal perspective


2 ECTS - Credits recognized by the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.