Skip to main content area Skip to institutional navigation Skip to search Skip to section navigation

Fall 2017: International Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Law: The Colombian Armed Conflict and the Peace Agreement


Wednesdays 4:30 - 6:30pm


The purpose of this course is to expose students to the major concepts and complexities of two crucial arms of public international law: International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and International Criminal Law (ICL).

This course examines the relationship between these branches of law and investigates how they influence contemporary violent conflicts, peacemaking and transitional justice. We will focus on such instruments as the Geneva Conventions, the Rome Statutes of the International Criminal Court, and the Protocol on the Participation of Children in Armed Conflict and such institutions as the International Criminal Court, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations, and others. Special attention will be given to understanding how international rules and institutions interact with local law and politics to influence the prospects for peace and justice in post-conflict settings.

The course will focus primarily on Colombia, which is currently transitioning to peace after experiencing one of the longest armed internal conflicts in the modern world. The Colombian peace agreement has great historical significance at a domestic level, but it also represents an incredibly progressive agreement in the realm of international law. The Colombian peace agreement has gone further than previous peace agreements elsewhere in the world because it establishes a detailed system of transitional  justice that may provide useful lessons for global peace-making in the future.


The seminar will meet during the fall semester (Wednesday 4:30pm-6:30pm).  Then, overlapping with the Thanksgiving break (November 18-25), the class will spend one week in Colombia. The group will meet with major Colombian jurists, legislators, current and former government officials, current and former rebel leaders, and academics to learn how IHL, IHRL and ICL shaped the Colombian conflict and peace agreement directly from those that played key roles.


Students will be responsible for arranging and paying for their own transportation to/from Colombia. Students must arrive on the specified date and remain with the group until the end of the program.

In addition to airfare, students will be charged a $900 program fee (for accommodations, in-country transportation and other programmatic expenses.) The trip fee assumes double occupancy accommodations. Some meals and cultural excursions will be covered by the program fees, but students will be expected to cover additional meals, sightseeing activities and incidental expenses.

Penn Law will provide partial or full financial aid to qualifying students. Students are also able to increase their loans to cover costs associated with this trip. After enrollment is determined, students seeking financial aid will be asked to provide a separate letter explaining the basis for their need. Financial aid decisions will be made in a timely fashion to allow students to drop the course should they wish to.


This class is open to 2L, 3L, and LLM students; there are no pre-requisites for enrolling in the seminar.

The application deadline is July 14, 2017. In order to be considered for the seminar, students must follow the instructions provided via the online form below. Applicants must submit a short personal statement (of no more than 500 words) describing their reasons for wanting to take this class and their interest in the topic together with a resume and unofficial transcript. As noted previously, only students who are able to be a part of the November research trip should apply.

Application Instructions