Module Details

LW806-7-SP-CO: Conflict & The Un: Law Relating To The Use Of Force, Peacekeeping, Sanctions & Counter Terrorism

Year: 2017/18
Department: Law (School of)
Essex credit: 15
ECTS credit: 7.5
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: Yes
Full Year Module Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students for a Single Term: No
Outside Option: No

Supervisor: Mr Daragh Murray
Teaching Staff: Dr Daragh Murray
Contact details: School of Law, University of Essex, Telephone 01206 872587, email

Module is taught during the following terms
Autumn Spring Summer

Module Description

This module will develop students’ understaning of the international law and pratice relating to the regulation of conflict, with a particular emphasis on the role of the United Nations. The module focuses on two principal areas:

• the law relating to the use of force (the jus ad bellum), including the question of whether the use of force may be required in certain circumstances, and
• United Nations-led efforts to address threats to international peace and security, with a particular focus on the deployment of UN forces in peacekeeping and peace enforcement contexts, and the use of sanctions.

Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter prohibits ‘the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state’. This prohibition is a foundational principle of the modern international order. However, it is subject to two notable exceptions:

• Article 42 of the UN Charter establishes that the UN Security Council may authorise the use of foce in order to maintain or restore international peace and security;
• Article 51 of the UN Charter acknowledges States’ inherent right to individual or collective self-defence, ‘if an armed attack occurs’.

The initial lectures focus on examining the law and practice relating to the use of force, in light of Articles 42 and 51. The concept of humanitarian intervention – also known as the Responsibility to Protect (or ‘R2P’) – is also addressed.

Attention then turns to the deployment of UN forces in peacekeeping and peace enforcement contexts. The deployment of UN forces (‘blue helmets’) is one of the most significant international developments in the last 50 years. It is also one of the most important and largest activities of the United Nations. This module aims to provide students with an understanding of peace operations and the components of international law, including human rights law, relevant to field operations.

The idea of peace operations was not contained in the UN Charter. The development of peace operations has been gradual and at times haphazard, and this also applies to the relevant law. The management of peace operations-related legal issues is characterised by the endeavour to consolidate existing principles, rules and guidelines, while at the same time developing these rules to meet new challenges. Just as peace operations are themselves evolving, so too is the law.

This module will develop students understanding of how public international law, international human rights law, international law of armed conflict, and other relevant laws, apply to peace operations. This will also require students to develop an understanding of the institutional law of the United Nations. As well as covering the foundational legal aspects of peace operations, the module will focus on some key unresolved legal issues. By their nature peace operations can be politically difficult, which in turn has had an impact on the role of law. Students will be encouraged in this module to consider and debate the role of international law in achieving international peace, human rights and security.

The final component of the module addresses the use of sacntions by the United Nations, as measures intended to restore or maintain international peace and security. Sanctions are particularly relevant in the context of counter-terrorism efforts, although their use may have significant human rights implications.

Learning and Teaching Methods

The module will be taught in weekly two hour sessions in an interactive teaching and discussion format. There will be also an additional group negotiation exercise during the course of the term.


100 per cent Coursework Mark


One assessed piece of coursework (written essay) of 5,000 words (including footnotes, excluding bibliography) to be submitted in accordance with LLM guidelines

Other information

Available to: LLM International Human Rights Law, LLM International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, LLM Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, & MA Human Rights students by approval.


  • Bellamy A, Williams P and Griffin S, Understanding Peacekeeping, Polity (2004). JX 1981.P4B4
  • Simma B, The Charter of the United Nations: A Commentary, Oxford University Press (2nd ed. 2002) JX 1977.E5
  • Franck T, Chesterman S and Malone D, Law and Practice of the United Nations: Documents and Commentary, Oxford University Press (2007) KZ 4986
  • White N and Klaarsen D (eds), The UN, Human Rights and Post Conflict Situations, Manchester (2005) JC 572.U6
  • Ray M and Mansson K (eds), Peace Operations and Human Rights, Routledge (2008) JC 571.P4
  • Gray C, International Law and the Use of Force, Oxford University Press (3rd ed 2008) KZ 6374.G7
  • McCoubrey H, and White N, The Blue Helmets: Legal Regulation of United Nations Military Operations, Dartmouth (1996) JX 1981.P7
  • Kondoch B (ed), International Peacekeeping, Ashgate (2007) KZ 6374.I6

Further information

External Examiner Information

  • Name: Prof Philip Leach
    Institution: Middlesex University
    Academic Role: Professor