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The Changing Nature of Peace and Security

Course Level

intermediate - advanced / 3rd - 4th year

Course Language


Course Type
online course in the winter term 2020/21, no classroom teaching
Contact Hours
Students must be online during the dates and times provided in the course catalogue. Please check the course hours through the link provided under the headline "Time Schedule and Course Venue" (below).


5 (if course has been attended regularly and exam has been passed)


This course will be available rather in the summer than in the winter term. It will be given in the winter term 2020/21.

Time Schedule and Course Venue

An up-to-date electronic course catalogue for the summer semester will be available on the website http://www.fu-berlin.de/vv from late February to mid August. Please select "Fachbereiche" - "Rechtswissenschaft" - "Staatsexamensstudiengang" and "Rechtswissenschaft (SPO 2015)" in order to access the Law courses.

Content of the Course

The United Nations, founded in 1945, today has 193 Member States. Tasked with the maintenance of international peace and security, the Security Council of the United Nations plays a prominent role in the United Nations as system of collective security. It is the Security Council’s responsibility to react to international crises by either peaceful means (Chapter VI of the UN-Charter) or even forceful measures (Chapter VII of the UN-Charter), once he has determined a breach or threat to peace and security.
This class takes a closer look on Chapter VII and especially Article 39 of the UN-Charter. It asks if the content and meaning of “international peace and security” has changed over the years, especially in light of the growing influence of international human rights. Is peace just the absence of war or are there more elements to take into consideration? How does the Security Council define “international peace and security” and a breach or threat thereof? As the determination of the Security Council of a situation as breach or threat to peace and security leads to wide-ranging competences  according to Chapter VII of the UN-Charter, the aforementioned question is of crucial importance. At the same time the questions arise: What if the Council does not act, for example because of the blockade by a vetoholding member; or: Who controls the decisions of the Council?

1. Apartheid as Threat to Peace: The Situation in South Africa in the 1970s
(summary and presentation due on 16 November, 12 p.m. via e-mail)
2. Iraq and the Kurds: Resolution 688 (1991) of the UN Security Council
(summary and presentation due on 23 November, 12 p.m. via e-mail)
3. The Humanitarian Tragedy in Somalia: Resolution 794 (1992) of the Security Council
(summary and presentation due on 30 November, 12 p.m. via e-mail)
4. The Genocide in Rwanda (1994)
(summary and presentation due on 7 December, 12 p.m. via e-mail)
5. The Debate over Accountability: The Massacre of Srebrenica (1995)
(summary and presentation due on 14 December, 12 p.m. via e-mail)
6. The Deadlocked Security Council I: The Case of Kosovo (1999)
(summary and presentation due on 4 January, 12 p.m. via e-mail)
7. Chapter VII, Article 51 and Attacks by Non-state Actors
(summary and presentation due on 11 January, 12 p.m. via e-mail)
8. The Fall of Saddam Hussein: The US-Iraq War (2003) and Its Implications for International Public Law
(summary and presentation due on 18 January, 12 p.m. via e-mail)
9. The Crimean Crisis and the Response of the United Nations (2014)
(summary and presentation due on 25 January, 12 p.m. via e-mail)
10. The Responsibility to Protect: An Emerging Norm?
(summary and presentation due on 1 February, 12 p.m. via e-mail)
11. The Deadlocked Security Council II: The Situation in Syria
(summary and presentation due on 1 February, 12 p.m. via e-mail)
12. The Security Council as World Legislator: The Debate over Resolutions 1373 (2001) and 1540 (2004)
(summary and presentation due on 8 February, 12 p.m. via e-mail)
13. The Security Council and Climate Change
(summary and presentation due on 15 February, 12 p.m. via e-mail)
14. The Security Council and the Corona Pandemic
(summary and presentation due on 22 February, 12 p.m. via e-mail)

Teaching Method

The course will start with introductory classes on the United Nations, the Security Council, and Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations. Participants are expected to choose from one of the above-mentioned topics (max. two persons per topic = team work!), prepare a 6-8 page summary (plus bibliography) on the subject and present it to the class via Powerpoint (or other) presentation. We are working on establishing an online discussion forum on our class days during our regular class hours.

Restricted Enrollment

yes (that means that the number of participants is limited and that you might not get a place in this course)

Course Registration

(1) via Campus Management
Please sign up for this course under the module "Study Program Themis & Overseas - Module 9".
registration period: 1 - 30 October 2020, 12 p.m. (noon)
In order to know if you have obtained a place in this course, please check out your course plan on Campus Management (tab "Stundenplan") from 31 October 2020.
As long as there are still seats available after the registration period has expired, they will be allocated according to the principle "first come, first served" if you sign up by 20 November 2020.
(2) Once (and only if) you have received a place in this course via Campus Management, please write an e-mail to the course instructor Dr. Peggy Wittke (peg@zedat.fu-berlin.de) with your three most preferred topics by 1 November 2020.

De-Registration from this Course

via Campus Management

regular drop period: 1 October - 20 November 2020

After the regular drop period you can only drop this course with a valid cause until 14 days prior to the exam. Please contact the International Office at the Law Department if you have to use this option.

Type of Exam

The final grade will be determined by the summary paper (1/3), the presentation (1/3), and the answers submitted for the Topic Questions or Tasks. Additional points can be achieved through an active participation in the discussions.

Exam Period

Presentations will take place throughout the whole course, please see the topic list above.

Registration for the Exam

Students will automatically be registered for the exam when they sign up for this course.

De-Registration from the Exam

Students who drop this course via Campus Management are automatically de-registered from the exam. Students who do not drop this course via Campus Management and do not take the exam, are going to finish this course with a non-passing grade (0 points).

Grade Release

via Campus Management