The Changing Nature of Peace and Security

Course Level

intermediate - advanced / 3rd - 4th year

Course Language


Course Type and Course Organization

seminar / 2 hours per week


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


This course will be taught at irregular intervals. It will be available rather in the summer than in the winter term.

Time Schedule and Course Venue

An up-to-date electronic course catalogue for the summer semester will be available on the website 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. The League of Nations – A Predictable Failure?
2. Apartheid as Threat to Peace: The Situation in South Africa in the 1970s
3. Iraq and the Kurds: Resolution 688 (1991) of the UN Security Council
4. The Humanitarian Tragedy in Somalia: Resolution 794 (1992) of the Security Council
5. The Genocide in Rwanda (1994)
6. The Debate over Accountability: The Massacre of Srebrenica (1995)
7. The Deadlocked Security Council I: The Case of Kosovo (1999)
8. Chapter VII and Attacks by Non-state Actors
9. Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations and Preemptive Self-Defense
10. The Fall of Saddam Hussein: The US-Iraq War (2003) and Its Implications for International Public Law
11. The Crimean Crisis and the Response of the United Nations (2014)
12. The Impact of the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa on International Peace and Security (2014)
13. The Responsibility to Protect: An Emerging Norm?
14. The Deadlocked Security Council II: The Situation in Syria
15. The Security Council as World Legislator: The Debate over Resolutions 1373 (2001) and 1540 (2004)
16. The Security Council and Climate Change
17. Who is controlling the Security Council? The Competences of the International Court of Justice
18. Reform of the Security Council – A Never Ending Story?

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 - 9 April 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 10 April 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 30 April 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 ( with your three most preferred topics by 12 April 2020.

De-Registration from this Course

via Campus Management

regular drop period: 1 April - 30 April 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

Participants are expected to choose from one of the given topics or to make their own topic proposal, to prepare a 4 - 6 page summary on the subject and to present it to the class along with a handout as well as to participate actively in the discussions. The final grade will be determined according to the summary paper (1/2) and the presentation including the handout (1/2). Additional points can be achieved through an active participation in the discussions.

Exam Period

Presentations will take place throughout the whole course. The date of the presentations will be determined by the course instructor.

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