Research Seminar
Interplay of Several Fields of Public International Law

The environment is the „silent“ victim during and after the conduct of hostilities. While the protection of civilians and civilian objects is very prominent in today's discussions on the laws of armed conflict, environmental protection in armed conflicts is a topic belligerent states often neglect. The International Law Commission has taken up the topic and will deliberate a final version of principles on the „Protection of the Environment in Relation to Armed Conflict“ this summer.
In this seminar, we will explore some provisions in the laws of armed conflict that address and protect the „natural“ environment explicitly and also implicitly. Other fields of international law, such as international environmental law and human rights law, can complement the laws of armed conflict in this regard. Research at this intersection deals with treaties such as Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, human rights treaties as well as multilateral environmental agreements such as the Biodiversity Convention or the World Heritage Convention. Possible norm conflicts arise at this intersection, and treaty interpretation and harmonization across fields of international law might lead the way out. We will jointly explore how the environment is protected during and after the war. How can human rights complement environmental protection in armed conflicts? Do multilateral environmental agreements continue to apply and protect specific areas during a conflict? What are the implications of such an interplay? 

The seminar is addressed to students interested in international humanitarian law, international environmental law, human rights law, and general questions in public international law (treaty interpretation, etc). In addition to issues such as the continued application of human rights treaties or environmental law treaties in armed conflicts, other topics such as case studies on Colombia or the Democratic Republic of Congo with regard to environmental protection and armed conflicts can be conducted. Other fields, such as gender-related questions or the rights of future generations can be assessed as well. The scholarly debate as well as the work of the UN International Law Commission will play a major role in the seminar. Guest speakers from the International Law Commission, NGOs, and foreign ministries dealing with the topic will be invited to discuss their approaches to the topic with the participants of the seminar.

Research topics will be distributed based on individual interests, participants can also suggest their own topics for their papers in the context of the overall theme of the seminar. The seminar will take place in July 2022. Papers have to be submitted until the end of the summer term. An introductory session on the topic will take place in April 2022. At the beginning of June, there will be a mandatory academic writing session for all participants.

All participants are expected to present on their respective topics during the seminar in July (in English). Students can submit a paper (in German or English) in order to receive a „Seminarschein“ in terms of the „Promotionsordnung“. Additionally, students can write a „Examenshausarbeit im SPB X (Völker- und Europarecht)“. Students are advised to have written a preparatory paper (Semiararbeit) before they write their „Examenshausarbeit“.

The number of students participating in the seminar is limited. If you are interested in the topic, please register via Stine. If you wish to write a „SPB-Hausarbeit“, please send an email to