International Humanitarian Law Clinic
The International Humanitarian Law Clinic is a research and advocacy institute that promotes the law of armed conflict and fights to eliminate torture, war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.
The IHL Clinic works on the front lines—researching ways to hold perpetrators accountable, working on detainee cases and other issues in the “war on terror,” and working with the US military on strategies for better implementation and training in the law of armed conflict. The clinic partners with international criminal tribunals, the US military, non-governmental organizations, and law firms around the world. Under clinic director Laurie Blank’s instruction and supervision, Emory Law students work in the United States and abroad to minimize the devastating consequences of war for soldiers and civilians alike.
Priorities of the International Humanitarian Law Clinic
Promoting the Laws of War
The IHL Clinic addresses difficult legal questions, including the status of specific crimes under the laws of war, the application of IHL to cyberwarfare, the legal framework for the use of targeted killing and drones, and legal obligations governing the release and transfer of detainees. The clinic also directs Mind the Gap: Complex Legal Frameworks and Complex Operational Challenges, a major multinational project co-sponsored by the US Institute of Peace to create a toolbox for military and civilian actors on the ground in stability operations.
Enforcement and Accountability
The IHL Clinic plays a key role in protecting civilians in conflict areas, preventing atrocities, and holding perpetrators of atrocities accountable. Students work in real time with international criminal tribunals and human rights organizations, helping prosecute or defend individuals accused of war crimes, raise public awareness of atrocities, and ensure the protection of civilians and combatants in conflict regions around the world.
Training and Education
Effective and comprehensive training and education is critical for the protection of civilians and soldiers and effective mission accomplishment. The IHL Clinic partners with the US Institute of Peace to research and analyze military training programs in countries around the world. The IHL Clinic also works with the International Committee of the Red Cross to develop teaching supplements for faculty teaching IHL and related topics.
The manual examines different programs and models for law of war training for militaries, including national training, governmental bilateral assistance training, and participation in international programs, in three main sections:
- An analysis of the different options for pursuing military training in the law of armed conflict
- A directory of programs and models for law of war training
- Web links with information about the laws of war in general and law of war training
Countries around the world can reference the manual to help ensure that their military forces are trained in the laws of war in accordance with the obligations set forth in the Geneva Conventions and, if they do not currently have such training, can use it in initiating law of war training for their own militaries.
Update In Progress
We currently are updating the manual for publication of the second edition, which will be a joint project of the International Humanitarian Law Clinic and the United States Institute of Peace. Countries can submit the appropriate information for the manual through the secure online survey link, which includes questions about training for national militaries and foreign bilateral assistance training. In addition, the manual will be continually updated on this website and the information available on the searchable database link (coming soon).
Please direct any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Creating a Toolbox to Assess the Applicable Law Along the Continuum of Conflict
A joint project of the Emory International Humanitarian Law Clinic and the United States Institute of Peace, Mind the Gap examines the intersecting legal frameworks applicable during conflict, stability operations, and peace operations. These situations pose complex challenges for both military and civilian actors tasked with promoting the rule of law. For example, uncertainty about the applicable law can impact determinations regarding detention regimes; limits on targeting, especially regarding the applicability of human rights norms; and the parameters of the authority and responsibility for conducting operations (as it arises in relations between the host nation and the States sending forces). Understanding this complex suite of issues is fundamental to promoting the rule of law in conflict and post-conflict environments.
Identifying the Applicable Law
The continuum of conflict ranges from domestic disorders to non-international armed conflicts to international armed conflicts. The nature of a particular conflict determines which law governs the actions, rights, and obligations of those involved. But conflicts sometimes involve elements of both international and non-international armed conflict and often evolve from one form of conflict into another. The emergence of new forms of conflict—for which there is no ready characterization—complicates matters. For example, is transnational terrorism an international armed conflict, a non-international armed conflict, a law enforcement operation, or, perhaps, something altogether different?
Each situation is subject to distinct bodies of law: human rights law, international humanitarian law, and domestic law overlie the conflict continuum; stability operations then also involve multiple layers including bilateral treaties, international conventions, and the domestic law of the state where an operation occurs.
This project brings together leading practitioners and scholars with operational and legal experience in a range of peace and stability operations to
- Identify the key legal questions that arise over the continuum of conflict scenarios;
- Assess whether and how problems in defining the conflict situation and identifying applicable legal regimes complicates effective and legal interventions;
- Determine which relevant materials and products would be most useful for military and civilian actors on the ground;
- Address how to better train key actors in this regard;
- Develop a framework for better analyzing the key questions and dilemmas identified; and
- Provide an operational matrix that can be used as a tool for actors in peace and stability operations to more accurately assess their legal obligations and duties in a given context.
Teaching International Humanitarian Law Workshop
Emory Law's International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Clinic hosts Teaching International Humanitarian Law workshops in partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Intended as a teaching tool for law professors, the Teaching IHL workshops guide participants in developing stand-alone IHL courses, integrating IHL modules into their curricula, or revamping current teaching methods of IHL. The workshops provide an opportunity for law faculty to think creatively about their teaching of IHL and to network with others to support and expand their teaching of IHL topics.
- Defining the scope and content of an IHL class
- Exploring the intersection between international human rights law, international criminal law, and IHL
- Incorporating IHL modules into the teaching of courses such as public international law, national security law, immigration law, constitutional law, and administrative law
- Identifying strategies for developing curricula and responding to current events, as well as teaching IHL with an international perspective
In conjunction with the Teaching IHL workshops, the IHL Clinic and the International Committee of the Red Cross partner to produce Teaching IHL supplements, which offer materials for faculty interested in incorporating IHL into other courses, such as International Law, International Criminal Law, National Security Law, Human Rights, and a variety of other topics. Each supplement includes analysis, suggestions for cases and materials to use in class, and discussion questions and suggested answers.
Download Teaching IHL Supplements
The International Humanitarian Law Clinic is open to second- and third-year law students. Students will be assigned to work with one or more organizations (international tribunals, non-governmental organizations, law firms, etc.) during the semester and will work directly with the attorneys at that organization. Clinic students engage in a wide range of complex and sophisticated legal research and writing on relevant humanitarian law topics under the direct supervision of clinic director Laurie Blank.
The IHL Clinic has prepared briefs and memoranda for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the UN Committee Against Torture and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, and submissions to the European Court of Human Rights and the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. Clinic students also research and write country reports on war crimes prosecutions and universal jurisdiction and assist with cases against human rights abusers living in the United States.
For two hours of graded credit, students work a minimum of 100 hours on their assigned clinic projects. Weekly or bi-weekly classroom sessions will address fundamental principles of international humanitarian law and topical issues in the application of law of war principles to contemporary conflicts, including counterterrorism operations, treatment of detainees, and the conflict in Afghanistan. Students will make two short presentations about their clinic work during class as well.
Final grades in the IHL Clinic are based on
- written work product,
- class participation, and
- class presentations.
Applying to the IHL Clinic
The International Humanitarian Law Clinic is open to second- and third-year law students.
Prerequisites: All students enrolling in the IHL Clinic must have taken or be concurrently taking one of the following classes:
- International Law
- International Humanitarian Law
- International Human Rights
- International Criminal Law or Terrorism and the Law
Past experience or coursework in international law is desirable but not required.
Application: Apply for the IHL Clinic on Symplicity » The application consists of a two-part online form that also requires you to upload the following documents:
- Writing sample
- Personal statement
- Law school transcript
- Operational Law Experts Roundtable on the Gotovina Judgment: Military Operations, Battlefield Reality and the Judgment’s Impact on Effective Implementation and Enforcement of International Humanitarian Law—a report produced by the International Humanitarian Law Clinic »
- Establishing the Rule of Law in the Al Anbar Province, Iraq: Major General John F. Kelly, deputy commanding general of the First Marine Expeditionary Force, presented “Establishing the Rule of Law in the Al Anbar Province, Iraq” on September 21, 2009, in Emory Law’s Tull Auditorium. Listen to the presentation »
- Exploring the Drone and the Legal Unknown: ILH Clinic director Laurie Blank spoke at an October 18, 2011, workshop on unmanned aerial systems at the University of North Dakota. Watch the video »