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The Changing Nature of Peace and Security


Course Type


Course Language


Course Organization

This course will be held as an intensive course over four and a half days.


6 (if exam has been passed)


This course will be taught at irregular intervals. It will be available in the summer term 2015.

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" 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 it 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, f.e. because of the blockade by a veto-holding member; or: who controls the decisions of the Council?


1. The League of Nations - A Predictable Failure?

2. Apartheid as a 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 UN Security Council

5. The Genocide in Rwanda (1994)

6. The Debate over Accountability: The Massacre of Srebrenica (1995)

7. The Deadlocked Security Council: The Case of Kosovo (1999)

8. Chapter VII and Attacks by Non-state Actors

9. Article 51 of the Charter of the UN and Preemptive Self-Defense

10. The Fall of Saddam Hussein: The US-Iraq War (2003) and its Implications for International Public Law

11. The Responsibility to Protect: An Emerging Norm?

12. The Security Council as Lawmaker: The Debate over Resolutions 1373 (2001) and 1540 (2004)

13. Who is Controlling the Security Council? The Competences of the International Court of Justice

14. Reform of the Security Council - A Never Ending Story?

Course Registration

Applications (short CV, statement of motivation in English and three choices of topics – please note that only complete applications will be considered!) are to be sent via e-mail by 26 April 2015 to the course instructor Peggy Wittke (peg@zedat.fu-berlin.de).


Participants are expected to choose from one of the given topics or to make their own topic proposal, to prepare a 4 - 6 page summarya 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.

Registration for the Exam

Students have to register for the exam with the course instructor. They are not required to register formally at the Examination Office.