Student blog symposium on AGIL 2023

About the author(s):

Katharine Fortin is an Associate Professor at Utrecht University where she teaches IHL and IHRL. Before joining Utrecht University, she worked at the ICTY, ICC and Norton Rose Fulbright. She is the author of The Accountability of Armed Groups under Human Rights Law (Oxford University Press, 2017) which won the 2018 Lieber Prize. She has written widely about the framework of law that applies to armed groups in non-international armed conflicts and is one of the editors of the Armed Groups and International Law blog.

In Spring 2023, I taught a short four-session (1 hr 45 mins each) course entitled Armed Groups and International Law in which the assessment type was legal blogging. The course fits into our capita selecta period of teaching on the public international law LLM at Utrecht. During this period, students are able to choose five short courses focusing on niche areas of international law that help them build an individualised research profile. Usually teachers design courses around their specific research interests, to give students an insight into the world of their research. The idea is also that the capita selecta period will be skills-based.

In my course on Armed Groups and International Law, we looked at armed groups and international law with a focus on rebel governance. The first session focused on the legal personality of armed groups and how they fit into the broader system of international law. The second session focused on armed groups and detention, looking at the customary study of IHL, the new ICRC report on detention by armed groups and the differences between IHL and IHRL. The third session focused on armed groups and fair trial, looking at the Sakhanh case in the Swedish courts and the Al Hassan case at the ICC. The fourth session focused on armed groups and compliance, examining the Roots of Restraint in War report, the Generating Respect Project and the study From Words to Deeds.

In every session, we discussed blog posts and the art of legal blogging. We talked about what makes a ‘good’ blog post and what makes a ‘bad’ blog post, and also discussed different views on this. Students were also directed to one of our Law School’s 2-page guides which provides assistance on legal blogging.

For their assignment, the students were asked to select a legal issue relating to armed groups and international law and write a blog post on it. They were instructed that one way of doing this would be to select an article, blog post, report and ‘react’ to it, explaining why it was relevant, interesting and what questions it asked. Four of the best blog posts have been selected to be published on the blog and will be posted during the course of this week as a mini blog symposium designed to showcase students’ work. Congratulations to Daniela Ciobanu, Barbara Pavlovicová, Laura Pizzoferrato and Insook Yoon whose posts will be published!

For more information about the course, you can see the more detailed post that I wrote about it last year here.

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