Fall 2014 Course Schedule

Intl Disaster Relief Sem (LAW-795C-001)

Meets: 11:00 AM - 12:50 PM (T) - Room 500

Enrolled: 11 / Limit: 20

Administrator Access


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The course will first analyze the definition of disaster put forward by the International Law Commission, the contexts and causes of disasters and the strictly related concept of displacement of populations. We will then look at the normative content of international disaster response law (IDRL) and analyze international instruments on disaster response. We will explore the extent to which other germane bodies of international law such as international human rights law and refugee law are applicable to disaster situations. After sketching out the legal framework of IDRL, we will examine principles informing disaster relief and elucidate rights and obligations of states affected by disasters. We will tackle the question of whether an obligation to seek and/or accept international assistance and a duty to prevent disasters exist under international law. Subsequently, we will examine the responsibility of states vis-à-vis victims of disasters that occurred in foreign countries and determine whether these states have an obligation to provide humanitarian relief. We will critically analyze the concept of the “Responsibility to Protect” and discuss whether the scope of this responsibility should be expanded to cover disaster situations. The analysis of state responsibility vis-à-vis disaster situations will be complemented by a discussion on the role the UN and other international organizations play in disaster-stricken countries. The situation of disaster victims will come under examination, too. We will analyze human rights and international instruments that are relevant to the situation of disaster victims alongside protection needs of disaster-affected individuals. We will pay particular attention to the situation of women during disaster situations. The enforcement of disaster victims’ human rights will be examined with reference to the practice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, the European Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Finally, we will discuss challenges in the protection of disaster victims and the controversial question of whether a “right to humanitarian assistance” exists under international human rights law.

Textbooks and Other Materials

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First Class Readings

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