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Rechtswissenschaftliche Fakultät Lehrstuhl Fiocchi

Contemporary History of Law - Special Focus FS 2024: War and Humanity: the Rise of International Humanitarian Law

Henry Dunant at Solferino, Source:
Henry Dunant (1828–1910), Swiss philanthropist and co-founder of the International Committee of the Red Cross; Nobel Peace Prize laureate 1901; Source:

Event Number: 0581
Event Time: Wednesday, 12:15-13:45 (from 19.02.2024 to 29.05.2024)
Room: RAI-H-041

The date of the exam will be announced soon.

Lecture in the Master of Law programs: Course Catalogue


Format of the course

On site lecture + streaming (zoom): all lectures will be recorded and available as podcasts in Olat.

Content of the course

This year we celebrate the 160th anniversary of the First Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field. The Convention was held on 22 August 1864 with the aim of alleviating the effects of war on soldiers and civilians. In 1863 the International Red Cross was founded in Geneva. The Swiss businessman Henri Dunant, a witness to the atrocities of the Battle of Solferino (1859), had the idea of setting up an international organisation to protect and assist the wounded in armed conflicts. Is there a relationship between military necessity and the principle of humanity? How did international humanitarian law come into being?

The course particularly draws attention towards the time from the 18th to the 20th century, scrutinizing the general theories of the modern state and the creation of the international law system. The complex and contradictory relations between violence and law, war and law, race and law, and finally the (in)equality of men under the law will be also addressed. The course will outline the legal consequences of these aforementioned entanglements, interactions and collisions. It will analyse how these consequences relate to the nature and construction of the social order from a legal historical perspective.

Reading of primary sources combined with a critical reconstruction of law and examining the works of jurists in their historical context will form part of the course.


Aim of the course and learning outcomes

After the successful completion of this course students can understand the social and cultural mechanisms of law in their historical contexts; to comprehend and critically explain the ways how law structures state systems and operates within international systems and therefore; to understand, discuss and explain how some concepts become «legal», and to analyse their fundamental influence on the social order from a historical perspective.

Lecture material

Sources and reading materials will be uploaded together with the slides. Please find slides, sources, reading materials and Podcast on:


Weiterführende Informationen