International criminal law (2016/2017)

Course code
Name of lecturers
Lorenzo Picotti, Roberto Flor
Lorenzo Picotti
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Other available courses
Academic sector
Language of instruction
2° periodo di lezioni - aprile/maggio 2017, 2° periodo di lezioni - febbraio/aprile 2017

Lesson timetable

Learning outcomes

The course entirely in English aims to provide the conceptual, methodological and cultural basis, necessary to address extremely actual and in constant evolution topics concerning, first of all, “international criminal law” strictu sensu. In particular, the so called “international crimes”, their origin and the different categories (war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, crime of aggression) will be analyzed in light of the principle of individual criminal responsibility, provided by the Statutes of the International Tribunals and concretely applied. The jurisprudence of the permanent International Criminal Court (ICC), established by the Rome Statute of 1998, as well as the most relevant decisions of the Nuremberg and Tokyo International Military Tribunals (IMT and IMTFE), the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), will be the object of a deep analysis.
The course will focus also on matters of “European criminal law”, this being understood as both the areas of criminal jurisdiction explicitly attributed to the European Union (arts. 83, 86 and 325 TFEU), of which some harmonization and cooperation instruments will be considered (in particular in the field of cybercrime and copyright, trafficking in human beings and illegal immigration, child pornography); and the system of the protection of fundamental rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, especially with regard to the obligations of penal protection weighing on the national judicial systems (e.g. prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment).
Therefore, the aim of the course is that of making the students aware of the supranational dimension of criminal law, whose importance is already in these days fundamental and cannot be in any way underestimate, in particular in the future perspectives.
Last but not least, the use of English allows the students to acquire the ability to use a correct and appropriate language and to access to the relevant legal sources and case law in the original language. English is the language used by the entire international community to communicate.


The course is divided in the following three didactic units:

1. Origin and evolution of international criminal law strictu sensu from the creation of the International Criminal Tribunals of Nuremberg and Tokyo (IMT and IMTFE) to the establishment, with the Rome Statute, of the permanent International Criminal Court (ICC); analysis of the international crimes, with specific regard to the crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC (war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, crime of aggression); analysis of the legal tools and case law on the principle of individual criminal responsibility for international crimes (with particular attention to arts. 25, 28, 30 of the Rome Statute).

2. National criminal law and European criminal law: evolution and process of “Europeanisation” of criminal law; role of the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice; Lisbon Treaty and the new explicit penal competences of the European Union in the fight against transnational crimes (child pornography, trafficking of human beings, illegal immigration, cybercrime, terrorism, etc.) and in the assurance of effectiveness to the European policies (financial market regulation and environmental protection); penal protection of the European financial interests; establishment of an European Public Prosecutor.

3. The protection of the Fundamental Rights: role of the Council of Europe and function of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR); relations between ECHR case law and national penal jurisdictions; the obligations of penal protection weighing on the national judicial systems (e.g. the prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment).

Teaching methods
The teaching methods used for attending and non-attending students are different.
For the students who will attend the course, the didactic methods will consist in lectures given by the professors on the most important and relevant topics of “international criminal law” strictu sensu, “European criminal law” and “the protection of human rights”. During the lessons the students will be provided with the key categories and tools to deeply understand the subject, extremely actual and in constant evolution. The teaching will be integrated by specific workshops using as support the most crucial and actual decisions. Furthermore, specific works, doctrinal articles and judgments will be published and made available on line, through the e-learning platform.
With regards to the students who will not attend the course, the study of the recommended books will be integrated thanks to the support of the professors. They will update the students on specific novelties (case law - legislation) through specific communications available on line. Please note that with online registration also non-attending students may have access to the e-learning platform.
During the entire academic year all the students will have the possibility to contact the professors and to meet them during the specific time dedicated to them and indicated on the Department’s website.

Recommended books
For the students who have attended the course it is sufficient the collection of materials provided by the professors during the course (International Criminal Law - Course materials 2017), available also on the University platform e-learning, which contains a collection of sources of law, legal tools, case law and doctrinal articles on specific topics analyzed during the lessons.

For non-attending students, the recommended books are:

- H. SATZGER, International and European Criminal Law, C. H. Beck, München, 2012 (pages to be arranged with the professors);

or, as an alternative on the first part of the course,

- G. WERLE & F. JESSBERGER, Principles of International Criminal Law, 3rd ed., Oxford University Press, 2014 (pages to be arranged with the professors).

The regular consultation of the legal tools is recommended. In particular, please, consult the texts of the ICC, ICTY and ICTR Statutes, the European treaties, the European convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and the case law in the parts of interest, available on the websites specifically indicated by the professors.

Assessment methods and criteria

The exam will be in English. The students who have attended the course and wish to deepen their study on a particular subject, agreed with the professors during the course or workshops, have the possibility to present a short paper on specific topics analyzed during the course, object of the oral interview directed to verify the knowledge achieved. In alternative, the exam will consist of a written test followed by an oral interview.

The exam has the goals to verify the following elements:
-depth and extent of the knowledge achieved;
-language properties;
-ability to connect in a systematic way the knowledge achieved;
-analytical and argumentative skills.

The evaluation runs on a scale from 0 to 30 (successful completion of the examination starts from 18)

Teaching aids