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Date Title Author Reference
***New***
January 2018
The Good Operation - A handbook for those involved in operational policy and its implementation The Chilcot Team Ministry of Defence,
2018
The handbook is designed to prompt its readers to ask the right questions as they plan for and execute a military operation, drawing in particular on the lessons of the 2016 Iraq Inquiry (Chilcot) Report, but also on other reports and on the experience of colleagues. While some elements of the handbook may appear self-evident, sometimes it's important to restate the obvious. Though aimed primarily at MOD decision-makers, it is intended to have utility across the wider national security community. This is not intended to be a step-by-step guide, to be followed slavishly in all circumstances, but rather an outline of a general thought process. It is not military doctrine, though it complements it. It seeks to help with operations in all three environments, maritime, land and air, as well as domains such as cyber and space; whether 'kinetic' or 'non-kinetic'; and whether relatively straightforward or complex, demanding and politically difficult. It aligns with military values and the Civil Service Code.
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***New***
January 2018
The Israeli Strike on Syria and the Prohibition on the Unilateral Use of Force Oona Hathaway Just Security,
January 16, 2018
On Tuesday, January 9, 2018 Israel reportedly attacked an arms depot at a Syrian military base near Damascus with both jets and ground-to-ground missiles. The strikes have thus far met with deafening silence from the international community and from Israel itself. This silence is a worrisome sign for the health of the prohibition on unilateral use of force and the international legal order that depends on it. Because Israel has not acknowledged, much less defended, the strikes, it is difficult to know what argument its lawyers would make. It may very well be that Israel knows that the strikes are illegal and that is why it has not acknowledged them or attempted to explain or defend them, other than obliquely. Does that mean we should be less concerned? The refusal by a striking state to acknowledge or defend attacks that violate the prohibition on unilateral uses of force does not erase the damage they do to that rule. Instead, such strikes and their disregard for international law put the legal order at risk at a moment when it is already under assault from many quarters. Indeed, the Israeli strikes over the past year may be a sign that the Trump administration is willing to tolerate actions by allies that violate the UN Charter. (Don't forget, that the Trump administration undertook its own illegal strikes on Syria in April 2017). And that may be the most worrisome sign of all.
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***New***
January 2018
Shovels: Lawful Weapons or War Crime? Laurie Blank Lawfare,
January 16, 2018
The senior enlisted advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff suggested in a rallying cry to U.S. forces on Jan. 9:
[The Islamic State] needs to understand that the Joint Force is on orders to annihilate them. . . . if they choose not to surrender, then we will kill them with extreme prejudice, whether that be through security force assistance, by dropping bombs on them, shooting them in the face, or beating them to death with our entrenching tools.
In fact, though gruesome, the use of a shovel to kill an enemy in combat is entirely within the bounds of the law. The law of armed conflict—or international humanitarian law, as it is also known—governs the conduct of hostilities during wartime and is therefore the applicable legal regime for any hostilities between the U.S. and the Islamic State or U.S. treatment of Islamic State fighters in combat or after capture.
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***New***
January
Alseran v MOD and the Legal Risks in Treating All Captives as Prisoners of War Aurel Sari Just Security,
January 4, 2018
In December 2017, the English High Court delivered its judgment in favour of the claimants in Alseran and Others v Ministry of Defence, a decision representing the latest instalment in the long line of cases brought on human rights grounds against the UK Ministry of Defence relating to operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The case involved four Iraqi claimants who alleged that they were unlawfully detained and mistreated by British forces. The sole presiding judge, Mr. Justice Leggatt, found there was no basis in international law for Alseran's interment at Camp Bucca. He also held that the review process adopted by British forces to determine the status of captured persons rested on a misunderstanding of the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Dr Sari examines the judgment with a keen eye and questions the court's assessment of combatant status and prisoner of war status, which Dr Sari rightly points out are distinct matters. To avoid detaining captured persons unlawfully, detaining authorities must set up a screening mechanism that conclusively determines, with minimum delay, the legal position of all individuals whose status is in doubt and who have not engaged in belligerent acts.
Summary extracted by Aspals

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***New***
January 2018
Customary International Law and the Addition of New War Crimes to the Statute of the ICC Dopo Akande EJIL: Talk!,
2 January 2018
In addition to the activation of the International Criminal Court's jurisdiction over the crime of aggression, the recently concluded Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Statute of the ICC, also adopted three amendments adding to the list of war crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court. These new war crimes relate to the use of prohibited weapons in international as well as non-international armed conflicts. The proposal to add these new war crimes to the Rome Statute was made by Belgium. However, although the newly added war crimes mirror prohibitions which already exist for states in relevant treaties, these Belgian proposals proved to be more controversial than those with regard to Kampala war crimes amendments. As a result of the absence of general agreement that the proposed crimes were all crimes under existing customary international law, the draft resolution presented to the Working Group, and that ultimately adopted by ASP, did not include a reference to customary international law (see para. 12 of the Report of the Working Group).
Summary extracted by Aspals

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