Course Syllabus International Disaster Law

Course Code:
Valid from Semester:
Education Cycle:
Advanced level
7.5 Higher education credit
Grading Scale:
Fail, Pass, Pass with Distinction
Main Field of Study:
International and Operational Law
Department of Political Science and Law
International and Operational Law
Language of Instruction:
The education is partially in English
Decided by:
The Research and Education Board’s Course Syllabus Committee at the Swedish Defence University
Decision date:

Entry Requirements

Degree of Master of Laws or Degree of Bachelor of Science in Law with Specialisation in International Law or equivalent plus English B or English 6.

Course Content and Structure

The overall aim of the course is to give the student in-depth knowledge of international law applicable in the management of crises and disasters, referred to as International Disaster Law or International Disaster Response Law. This field of law focuses on crises and disasters, e.g. earthquakes, floods, pandemics or nuclear accidents, that have either natural or antagonistic causes.
The regulations in this field are found both in international law at the global and regional level and in various bilateral agreements between countries. The regulations are thus spread over a large number of different instruments and agreements. The course provides both an overview of the fragmented subject area and an opportunity to work with methods for applying international instruments to different types of crises and disasters.
The course is based on the International Law Commissions Draft Articles on the Protection of Persons in the Event of Disasters and the regulations developed through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The course touches on legal definitions in the field, division of responsibilities between states and international organisations such as the IFRC, operational law issues on e.g. the status of personnel and logistics as well as support between countries before and after a crisis or disaster (referred to as host-nation support).

The course is divided into three parts:
1. Introduction. Terminology and regulations at the global and regional level.
2. Crisis and disaster response in practice. Regulations concerning the status of crisis management personnel, logistics and border management, aid to those displaced, and the relationship between the management of crises, disasters and armed conflicts.
3. Before and after crises and disasters. Different countries’ regulations for preparing and receiving support from other countries in the event of a crisis or disaster.
The course begins with lectures interspersed with self-study. The course then alternates between self-studies, seminars and role-plays. Altogether, the lectures, seminars and roll-plays give the students the foundation for the course’s final written take-home examination.

Intended Learning Outcomes

After completed course the student should be able to:
Knowledge and understanding
  • identify, explain and use international regulations applicable to the implementation of crisis and disaster response.

Competence and skills
  • identify and analyse the specific issues regarding the status of personnel in different types of crisis and disaster response, the deployment and withdrawal of personnel and materials/materials for operations, and the differences and similarities between regulations for operations in connection with crises, disasters and armed conflicts,
  • independently and together with others, prepare and present legal documents to support planning for the giving or receiving or support in crisis or disaster events,
  • independently and together with others, apply international regulations in the implementation of crisis and disaster response in practice.

Judgement and approach
  • identify and critically evaluate international law regulations at the global and regional level for crisis and disaster management.


Scope: 7.5 Higher education credit


Grades are set according to a three-grade scale: Pass with Distinction (PwD), Pass (P) and Fail (F). Grading criteria are specified by no later than the start of the course.
To earn the grade Pass (P), the student must actively participate in mandatory seminars and earn a grade of Pass (P) on the written take-home examination.
To earn the grade Pass with Distinction (PwD) in the course, the student must meet the requirements for Pass (P) and earn a grade of Pass with Distinction (PwD) on the written take-home examination.

Restrictions in Number of Examinations

The number of examinations is not limited.

Restrictions Concerning Degree

The course cannot be included in a degree with another course whose content fully or partially corresponds to the content of this course.

Transitional Provisions

When the course is no longer given or when the course content has changed substantially, the student has the right to be examined once per semester during a three-term period in accordance with this syllabus.


The course is given within the Swedish Defence University’s Master’s Programme in International Operational Law, and may also be given as a freestanding course.
If a student has a decision from the Swedish Defence University regarding special educational support due to a disability, the examiner may decide on alternative forms of examination for the student.
On completion of the course, an evaluation will be conducted under the auspices of the course director and will serve as the basis for any changes to the course.