Aspals Reading List 2015

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Date Title Author Reference
7 December Applicability of the European Convention on Human Rights to UK Airborne Operations in Syria Dr Noëlle Quénivet and Dr Aurel Sari Noelle Quenivet British Academy Blog,
10 December 2015
On 2 December the House of Commons approved the extension of airborne operations to Syria. This blog discusses the applicability of the European Convention on Human Rights to such operations. The Committee began on 29 October an inquiry into the UK policy on use of drones for targeted killing following the attack in Raqqa, Syria on 21 August which killed two British nationals. The key concept establishing the applicability of the Convention is 'jurisdiction' which is primarily territorial but can, exceptionally, be extra-territorial provided that the State is exercising 'authority' or 'effective control'. With regard to military operations conducted abroad, this exercise of authority or effective control can be divided into three models of application: (1) personal control, (2) area or spatial control and (3) 'assumption of authority' combined with a jurisdictional link (Al-Skeini).In the authors' view, current airborne operations carried out by the UK in Syria do not fall within the scope of applicability of the Convention and thus the UK cannot be held responsible for violations of the Convention.
Summary extracted by Aspals

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7 December Islamic State vs. Al-Qaeda, Strategic Dimensions Of A Patricidal Conflict Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Nathaniel Barr, Jason Fritz, Bridget Moreng New America,
December, 2015
The competition between IS and al-Qaeda has fundamentally reshaped the jihadist environment globally. IS has challenged al-Qaeda's dominance over the jihadist movement. Thus far, al-Qaeda has responded not by mimicking IS, but rather by continuing to pursue its Maoist-style strategy, and even attempting to "rebrand" by contrasting itself to IS's over-the-top violence. Al-Qaeda has presented itself to both Sunni states and local Sunni populations as a more reasonable and controllable alternative to IS. As IS and al-Qaeda continue to pursue their divergent strategies, the future of the jihadist movement, and the security of the Middle East and North Africa, hangs in the balance. [44 pages]
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4 December Combating Terrorism in a Democracy: The Israel Experience Professor Robbie Sabel JURIST ,
December, 2015
Israel like other democracies has no easy answer to terrorism. Israel has been subject to terrorist attacks since its creation and for this reason, perhaps, has been less quick than other democracies to enact draconic legislation in response to recent terrorist attacks. However Israel like other democracies has to find a balance between providing safety to its citizens and preserving human right of all including those of fanatical terrorist. There is apparently no magic bullet, though perhaps that is not the most felicitous phrase to use in the circumstances.
Summary extracted by Aspals

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26 November Legal basis for UK military action in Syria Arabella Lang Voltaire Network,
26 November 2015
The House of Commons is likely to debate a Government motion on using military force against ISIS/Daesh in Syria, possibly in early December 2015. The Government's November 2015 response to the Foreign Affairs Committee report on extending British military action to Syria says that the main legal basis for UK military action in Syria is collective self-defence of Iraq, with the individual self-defence of the UK and collective self-defence of other states (but not Security Council authorisation) as additional legal bases. Self-defence is one of the three main exceptions to the UN Charter's prohibition on the use of force, the others being Security Council authorisation and consent/invitation. There is no UN Security Council resolution clearly authorising the use of force in Syria. UN Security Council Resolution 2249 (2015) on ISIS/Daesh in Syria and Iraq, whilst using some language familiar from other resolutions on the use of force, seems intended to have more political than legal impact. It is a significant display of unanimity that had previously been notably lacking; but its careful wording implicitly supports states' existing military actions against specific terrorist groups in those countries without either explicitly accepting or rejecting the various justifications or clearly providing a new stand-alone legal basis or authorisation for those actions:

• it determines that ISIS/Daesh is 'a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security', and
• calls for (not authorises) 'all necessary measures' (code for using force) in compliance with international law to 'redouble and coordinate' existing efforts against ISIS/Daesh, Al-Nusrah Front (ANF), Al-Qaeda and other designated terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq, and 'to eradicate the safe haven they have established' in Iraq and Syria.

This means that the UK and other states will continue relying on the varying legal bases they have been using up until now, despite the dispute between Russia and other states. A very good analysis of the law.
Summary extracted by Aspals

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23 November Hybrid Warfare and Lawfare Andres B. Munoz Mosquera and Sascha Dov Bachmann The Operational Law Quarterly,
23 November 2015
Hybrid Warfare as a method of war is not new. The change today appears to be that Hybrid Warfare "has the potential to transform the strategic calculations of potential belligerents [it has become] increasingly sophisticated and deadly." Lawfare is using law as a weapon with a goal of manipulating the law by changing legal paradigms. The inherent complexity and ambiguity of Hybrid Warfare creates not only new security but also legal challenges for those adhering to international law within the frameworks established under and governed by the principles of the rule of law. Law-abiding actors will be confronted with short lead-time for political decision making and military planning based on incomplete intelligence and open-source information, an incommensurate broadness of the battlespace - both tangible and virtual, and the dictates of compliance with the rule of law and public morality: to follow democratic procedures and be subject to court review and public opinion scrutiny. This requires a comprehensive legal approach and broader legal interoperability, which includes the use of affirmative lawfare.
Summary extracted by Aspals

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2 October Air Strikes in Syria - Questions Surrounding the Necessity and Proportionality Requirements in the Exercise of Self-Defense Sina Etezazian Opinio Juris,
14 October, 2015
The lawfulness of conducting air strikes against the Islamic State Group (IS) in Syria is attracting increasing scrutiny from legal commentators. This scrutiny has intensified markedly since the UK's targeting of alleged IS terrorists using drones and France's joining the air campaign to bomb IS positions in Syrian territory. The extent to which air strikes would meet the necessity and proportionality requirements in the exercise of the right to self-defense under Article 51, however, remains less explored. Even assuming that the lawful exercise of the right of self-defense extends to action against irregular forces, it can be argued that the air campaign in Syria goes beyond the necessity and proportionality conditions of defensive force.
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2 October Legal Aspects of Hybrid Warfare Aurel Sari Lawfare,
2 October, 2015
An article arising from a workshop on the legal aspects of hybrid warfare and influence operations at the Strategy and Security Institute of the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom. Held in collaboration with the NATO Office of Legal Affairs and the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps. The event brought together senior legal advisors and experts working in a national and international capacity over the course of one and a half days. Like the Pentagon symposium on hybrid conflict. The Exeter workshop was held under the Chatham House Rule. These are the author's private thoughts. The Exeter workshop was devoted to exploring the legal ramifications of hybrid warfare. Inevitably, the first major question which arises in this context is a conceptual one. Is hybrid warfare merely a buzz word, convenient in the eyes of some but irritating to the ears of others, or does it actually denote a new stage in the evolution of warfare?. What are the The Legal Challenges? What is an effective response to these challenges?
Summary extracted by Aspals

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2 October Defending the FSA Against Russia — the Jus ad Bellum Perspective Kevin Jon Heller Opinio Juris,
2 October, 2015
An excellent analysis by Professor Heller who reminds us of what international law states on matters of intervention in the internal affairs of other states, where we do so to support rebel groups opposed to the lawful government. Although Russia's attacks on the FSA might have violated the jus in bello, they did not violate the UN Charter's prohibition on the use of force with regard to Syria, because they were conducted with the Syrian government's consent. Nor is there any plausible argument for viewing the Russian actions as an armed attack on the US — whatever the Art. II argument about the US's "national interest", an attack on the FSA is not a use of force against the US's "territorial integrity or political independence."
What this means, of course, is that the US could not invoke self-defense under Art. 51 to justify using force against Russia to defend the FSA – say, by destroying a Russian bomber. Not only would such a use of force create an international armed conflict between the US and Russia, it would itself qualify as an armed attack under Art. 2(4), thereby permitting Russia to use force against the US in self-defense. Russia would simply be responding to an unlawful act of aggression by the US.
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29 September That "Broad Consensus" for Unwilling/Unable Just Got Less Broad Kevin Jon Heller Opinio Juris,
29 September, 2015
The often-time mentioned "broad consensus" that believes in a right to use military force in self-defence when the host country is unable or unwilling to stop the attack" actually includes no more than four of the world's 194 states. That consensus is not exactly broad — and it looks even shakier now that Russia has apparently rejected the "unwilling or unable" test in the context of Syria.
Summary extracted by Aspals

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15 September UK Drone Strike on ISIS Raises Legal Questions Harriet Moynihan Chatham House,
15 September, 2015
The UK government has asserted the right of self-defence as the legal justification for its drone strike in Syria. The PM stated that there was no other option to protect the UK from imminent armed attacks, and that the attorney general had confirmed that there was a clear legal basis to act, but the application of this and other rules of international law needs further clarification. Greater transparency is also needed, given the change of policy direction and the importance of public and parliamentary confidence in the government's use of drones. The targeting of ISIS fighters in Syria marks a change in direction by the government, which to date has been tackling the terrorism threat to the UK by and large under the criminal justice model – that is, by prosecution and trial.
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10 September The Legal Questions About the UK's Drone Strike in Syria Noam Lubell Just Security,
September 10, 2015
The recent revelations of a UK drone strike in Syria targeting British individuals alleged to be linked to the Islamic State has generated much discussion, and the British government has presented the foundations of what it perceives as the legal basis for this strike under international law. The UK's statements thus far provide the beginning of the answer as to the legal basis for resort to force on Syrian territory without its consent. It remains, however, to be seen whether the Government considers the UK to be in an armed conflict against the Islamic State, separate from the Iraq-Islamic State conflict, and will provide a law of armed conflict (LOAC) analysis as to why the individuals targeted did not have civilian protection. Alternatively, the government would need to demonstrate how such killings could be justified in light of the strict restrictions on use of force in the law enforcement framework. It cannot be the case that outside of armed conflict states are free to kill individuals extraterritorially with no governing rules.
Summary extracted by Aspals

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10 September Using Force Against Terrorists 'Outside Areas of Active Hostilities' - The Obama Approach and the Bin Laden Raid Revisited Christian Schaller Journal of Conflict & Security Law,
(2015), Vol. 20 No. 2, 195-227
More than 13 years after the launch of Operation Enduring Freedom, the focus of US counterterrorism operations has gradually shifted from Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Arabian Peninsula, Somalia and Northern Africa. The use of drones and Special Forces in these regions causes difficult problems under international law. In particular, it is often far from clear whether a specific attack or raid triggers application of the law of armed conflict. The White House, therefore, issued a policy guideline in 2013, which states that lethal force will be used 'outside areas of active hostilities' only against targets that pose a 'continuing, imminent threat' to US persons. This policy reflects a conception of the right to self-defence according to which a state may target particularly dangerous persons irrespective of their status under international humanitarian law or human rights law ('self-defence targeting'). It is a characteristic feature of the Obama administration's approach to pick and choose from the legal concepts of self-defence and armed conflict in order to design a flexible normative framework for its operations against Al Qaeda and other extremist groups abroad. The present article focuses on different facets of this approach and shows how both concepts are utilized to justify such operations. The killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011 was a particularly instructive case since it raised a variety of issues under jus ad bellum and jus in bello.
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18 August The Role of Attribution Rules Under the Law of State Responsibility in Classifying Situations of Armed Conflict Remy Jorritsma Opinio Juris,
18 August 2015
Armed conflicts involving e.g. Ukraine/Russia, Israel/Palestine, and the self-proclaimed Islamic State demonstrate legal ambiguities with regard to State responsibility as a result of the State exercising control over organized armed groups. Under customary international law an act by a non-State actor is attributable to a State if, inter alia, the latter exercises a certain level of control over the former. However, it is unclear how much control is required for attribution.
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14 August The Authority to Detain in NIACs Revisited: Serdar Mohammed in the Court of Appeal Sean Aughey & Aurel Sari EJIL Talk!,
5 August 2015
The Court upheld the conclusion reached at first instance by Leggatt J that British armed forces participating in ISAF lacked the legal authority under international law to detain suspected insurgents captured in Afghanistan. The implications of Serdar Mohammed are considerable. The case raises difficult questions about the place the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) occupies in the international legal order and, more broadly, about the relationship between international human rights law and international humanitarian law (IHL). The authors find themselves in disagreement with the judgment now delivered by the Court of Appeal. This article is an excellent analysis of the strengths of the competing arguments advanced by the parties.
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14 August Disguising a Military Object as a Civilian Object: Prohibited Perfidy or Permissible Ruse of War? Kevin Jon Heller US Naval War College, International Law Studies,
14 August 2015
A number of scholars have claimed that it is inherently perfidious to kill an enemy soldier by disguising a military object as a civilian object. This essay disagrees, noting that conventional and customary IHL deem at least five military practices that involve making a military object appear to be a civilian object permissible ruses of war, not prohibited acts of perfidy: camouflage, ambush, cover, booby-traps, and landmines. The essay thus argues that attackers are free to disguise a military object as a civilian object as long as the civilian object in question does not receive special protection under IHL. You can download the essay for free [here].
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12 August The Reason Why the UK Lost the Serdar Mohammed Case Jonathan Horowitz Just Security,
August 3, 2015
The decision, which assessed the lawfulness of the 110-day security detention of a suspected Taliban commander by UK forces in Afghanistan in 2010, sheds important light on how human rights law and international humanitarian law interact in the context of security detention in an extraterritorial non-international armed conflict. The court pointed out that various practical and legal difficulties arise from applying the Strasburg court's interpretations on extraterritoriality and they even expressed "significant legal reservations" about the Strasburg court's interpretations (interpretations which the UK Supreme Court has taken on board). They pointed the Secretary of State to a legislative fix. Legislation, the Justices said, "might have taken the form of a bar of specified claims by foreign nationals or have provided for specific authority for HM [Her Majesty's] armed forces to detain in operations overseas." If the Secretary of State seriously considers proposing either of these legislative approaches, the second suggestion seems to sit best with the Convention and, in particular, its article on the right to an effective remedy.
Summary extracted by Aspals

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5 August It's Complicated: The Nuance of Any US Effort to Defend Division 30 from Assad Michael Schmitt Just Security,
August 5, 2015
It has been reported that President Obama has authorized the US armed forces to come to the defense of the new non-State group the United States is training to fight ISIS (Islamic State) in Syria should that group be attacked by the Assad regime. Last week, US air power was employed to support the group, Division 30, when it came under attack by the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front. The United States is ready to do the same should Division 30 find itself engaged in combat with the ISIS. However, any US use of force directly against Assad's forces will take the conflict to a new level. It is therefore a propitious moment to review the normative bidding. Absent a legal justification such as self- or collective defense, arming and training rebels to fight against a government amounts to a violation of the UN Charter Article 2(4) and the customary law prohibition on the use of force. The International Court of Justice took this position in its Nicaragua judgment, one that is well accepted despite significant State practice to the contrary. In the author's view, arming and training rebel forces for the express and only purpose of overthrowing the Assad regime is both an unlawful intervention into the internal affairs of Syria and a use of force against that State. However, it gets more complicated....
Summary extracted by Authors

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2 July The Future of NATO - A Role for Mediation Eliot Glover Presentation Paper,
World Mediation Summit,
29 Jun — 2 Jul 15
The author asks, 'how can one associate NATO with a method of alternative dispute resolution?" To help understand what NATO's future might resemble and how mediation could be linked to that vision requires examination of the current challenges the organisation faces. Among the challenges are: financial constraints; post conflict reconstruction, war weariness, and the ever-changing landscape. As long as NATO continues to seek additional cost effective, non-conventional ways to combat the uncertainties of modern conflict, it can always use extra tools in its toolbox. And mediation is a tool that very few organisations are using to full effect right now and it could make a big difference to winning the peace in future NATO operations.
Summary extracted by Aspals

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July Lawfare and Hybrid Warfare-How Russia is Using the Law as a Weapon Sascha Dov Bachmann and Andres B Munoz Mosquera Amicus Curiae,
Issue 102, Summer 2015
This short paper introduces the reader to the mutating military concept of hybrid warfare and one of its implementing methods, the use of law as a weapon. We aim to provide a current, comprehensive definition of the terms "hybrid warfare" and "lawfare". This submission focuses on the following areas: where law has been/is being used as a method of war, namely the Jus ad bellum, the jus in bello and the law of treaties in international relations.
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10 July Human Rights And Military Operations: Confronting The Challenges Noëlle Quénivet and Aurel Sari  Noelle Quenivet Workshop Report,
July, 2015
A summary of the proceedings of a workshop held on 6 February 2015 at the University of the West of England. The proceedings confirmed that the application of international human rights law, in particular the European Convention on Human Rights, to deployed operations presents significant legal and practical challenges to the armed forces. The proceedings also confirmed, however, that confronting these challenges requires a nuanced approach, as the nature of the problem neither demands nor admits of an absolute solution.
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29 June The Defense Department Stands Alone on Target Selection Adil Ahmad Haque Just Security,
June 29, 2015
A deeply troubling provision in the Defense Department's new Law of War Manual suggests that commanders are not legally required to minimize civilian casualties when selecting between different targets. According to the manual, even if commanders expect to gain the same or similar military advantage from striking target A as from striking target B, commanders are under no legal obligation to select the target that places the fewest civilians in harm's way. The author challenges some of the propositions the DoD makes justifying its approach to targeting, proportionality and the issue of collateral damage. He points out that the manual accepts that the principle of humanity "forbids the infliction of suffering, injury, or destruction unnecessary to accomplish a legitimate military purpose." The DOD's position on target selection appears to ignore this fundamental principle of customary international law.
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19 June Israel's Report on the 2014 Gaza Conflict Laurie Blank Just Security,
June 18, 2015
The Israeli government released its complete report on the 2014 Gaza Conflict ("Operation Protective Edge") on Sunday, 14th June (some chapters have been available online the past few weeks). Spanning over 200 pages, the document includes a comprehensive analysis and discussion of the conflict, the applicable law, Hamas's conduct and tactics, the conduct of the Israel Defense Forces, the effect of the conflict on the Israeli population, and Israel's framework and procedure for investigations.
The report is a sophisticated treatment of the legal issues inherent in contemporary conflicts and the extraordinarily difficult tactical, strategic and legal challenges in fighting against enemy forces that not only do not abide by the law of armed conflict (LOAC), but also use every opportunity to exploit and undermine the law for their own tactical and strategic gain.
The full report may be accessed here.
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16 June Applying the European Convention on Human Rights to the Use of Physical Force: Al-Saadoon Lt Cdr David S. Goddard David Goddard 91 INT'L L.STUD.402 (2015)
Volume 91
The author analyses the decision in the case and considers this arguably represents a significant expansion in what it means to be within the jurisdiction of a State party such that the ECHR has effect. In this regard, it amounts to unequivocal recognition of the demise of the approach to the issue previously set out in the seminal case of Bankovic and Others v. Belgium and Others. However, he considers that the impact of Al-Saadoon should not be overstated, as it may well not survive appeal and, even if it did, it is questionable whether the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) would reach the same conclusion, either in this case or in any case presenting similar facts. The decision addressed, inter alia, the scope of the duty to investigate alleged violations of human rights. However, of broadest significance is the Court's approach to the extraterritorial applicability of the ECHR and it is that topic on which this article focuses.
See also, by the same author: Britain's Al-Saadoon Case: A Matter of Human Rights Law and the use of Military Force Overseas
Summary extracted by Aspals

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4 June The EU confronts the Ukraine crisis—carefully handling the double-edged sword of self-determination? Larry Eaker Jurist
20 May 2015
The sweeping expansion of the EU over the past 20 years has seemed to hit its limits—at least for the immediate future. After absorbing 11 eastern European nations since 2004, including three Baltic countries from the former Soviet Union, the EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has recently called for a five-year freeze on any further enlargement. The EU is now bumping up against a very rough neighborhood to the east. As is well understood by the EU's institutions and the foreign policy officials of the 28 member states, the Russian Federation has made it clear that further EU expansion involving former members of the Soviet Union will be met with strong opposition—including a push back by the Russian government to protect alleged interests of Russian minorities in nations to the west of her borders. The clearest example of this growing clash over expansionary interests in Eastern Europe is, of course, the on-going conflict in Ukraine.
Summary extracted by Aspals

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24 May Hybrid Wars: The 21–century's New Threats To Global Peace And Security Sascha-Dominik Bachmann and Håkan Gunneriusson Scientia Militaria, South African Journal of Military Studies,
Vol 43, No. 1, 2015, pp. 77 – 98 (available via SSRN).
This article discusses a new form of war, 'hybrid war', with inclusion of aspects of 'cyber-terrorism' and 'cyber-war' against the backdrop of Russia's 'Ukrainian Spring' and the continuing threat posed by radical Islamist groups in Africa and the Middle East. It also discusses the findings of an on-going hybrid threat project by the Swedish Defence College. This interdisciplinary article predicts that military doctrines, traditional approaches to war and peace and their perceptions will have to change in the future. Hybrid threats faced by NATO and its non-military partners require a comprehensive approach allowing a wide spectrum of responses, kinetic and non-kinetic, by military and non-military actors.
Summary extracted by Aspals

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21 April Barking up the Wrong Tree: How Not to Save the British Armed Forces from Legal Defeat Aurel Sari and Noëlle Quénivet  Noelle Quenivet Lawfare Blog
21 April 2015
The authors analyse the recent report "Clearing the Fog of Law: Saving our Armed Forces from Defeat by Judicial Diktat", and agree that there is little doubt that the British armed forces are facing significant legal challenges. These must be addressed as a matter of priority. However, they do not believe that either the fiery tone of the report or its actual policy recommendations are best suited to preserve the operational freedom of the military. In this post, they seek to explain why this is so. They highlight the High Court decision in Al-Saadoon, which now extends the ECHR to active combat operations. This contradicts the European Court's assurances in Bankovic that the Convention does not admit a 'cause-and-effect' notion of jurisdiction (para. 75) and stretches the jurisdictional limits of the ECHR to their breaking point. But the authors do not see the Convention as a pernicious force. On the contrary, the incorporation of the ECHR into English law through the Human Rights Act 1998 has not only enabled individuals to bring human rights claims directly before the English courts, but it has also helped to render the English legal system more receptive towards international law and legal arguments. In the political domain, the shift of strategic attention away from wars of necessity and towards wars of choice has fuelled demands for greater accountability and transparency in foreign policy and defence matters. In short, the growing impact of international human rights law on the British armed forces is in part a symptom and in part a driver of a much broader legal transformation. Blaming it all on an 'imperial judiciary' (p. 9) is misleading and short-sighted.
The authors propose a way forward: while they argue that the search for legal solutions which completely banish international human rights law from the conduct of military operations is but a pipe dream, the cause of safeguarding the operational freedom and effectiveness of the British armed forces is better served by a more nuanced approach which aims to manage the adverse effects of the legal challenges confronting the military.
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April US Policy on the ICC Crime of Aggression Announced Beth Van Schaack Just Security
21 April 2015
At the Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law earlier this month, Professor Michael J. Matheson of George Washington University Law School chaired a fascinating panel on the Kampala Amendments to the Statute of the International Criminal Court on the crime of aggression, which could be activated as early as 2017 at the current rate of ratifications. Sarah Sewell–the State Department's Under Secretary for comments may raise an eyebrow or two, as they appear to sideline the role of the UN Security Council in terms of authorising military action. Her sub-text seems to reveal a fear that the US penchant for unilateral action might fall foul of the crime of aggression - a crime the US specifically acknowledged when it prosecuted Nazi war criminals in 1946.
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April Polish Soldiers Acquitted of War Crimes for Nangar Khel Incident Milena Sterio Jurist
April 20, 2015
Warsaw military court acquitted four Polish soldiers of war crimes over the killing of six civilians in Afghanistan in 2007. The soldiers were nonetheless found guilty of the lesser offense of failing to carry out a military order. This group of soldiers was part of 28,000 Polish military personnel who took part in the international mission in Afghanistan between 2002 and 2014. This article will explore the soldiers' original charges of war crimes and will analyze whether their alleged actions constituted war crimes under international humanitarian law. It should be noted that the soldiers were originally charged with violations of various provisions of the Polish Criminal Code, including crimes against peace, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Because these provisions of Polish law reference international law, the author conducts an analysis of the soldiers' liability under international humanitarian law.
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16 April 'Hybrid War' and 'Little Green Men': How It Works, and How It Doesn't Mark Galeotti E-International Relations
16 April, 2015
When Russian special forces seized Crimea at the end of February 2014, without their insignia, but with the latest military kit, it seemed as the start of a new era of warfare. Certainly, the conflict in Ukraine has demonstrated that Moscow, in a bid to square its regional ambitions with its sharply limited resources, has assiduously and effectively developed a new style of 'guerrilla geopolitics' which leverages its capacity for misdirection, bluff, intelligence operations, and targeted violence to maximise its opportunities. However, it is too soon to declare that this represents some transformative novelty, because Moscow's Ukrainian adventures have not only demonstrated the power of such 'hybrid' or 'non-linear' ways of warfare, but also their distinct limitations.
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April Afterwar: Healing the Moral Wounds of Our Soldiers Nancy Sherman ISBN-10: 0199325278;
ISBN-13: 978-0199325276

6 May 2015
2.6 million soldiers are currently returning home from war, the greatest number since Vietnam. Facing an increase in suicides and post-traumatic stress, the military has embraced measures such as resilience training and positive psychology to heal mind as well as body. Sherman argues that some psychological wounds of war need a kind of healing through moral understanding that is the special province of philosophical engagement and listening.
In AFTERWAR: Healing the Moral Wounds of Our Soldiers, Georgetown Professor Nancy Sherman argues that psychology and medicine alone are inadequate to help with many of the most painful questions veterans are bringing home from war.
Trained in both ancient ethics and psychoanalysis, and with twenty years of experience working with the military, Sherman draws on in-depth interviews with servicemen and women to paint a richly textured and compassionate picture of the moral and psychological aftermath of America's longest wars. She explores how veterans can reawaken their feelings without becoming re-traumatized; how they can replace resentment with trust; and the changes that need to be made in order for this to happen -- by military courts, VA hospitals, and the civilians who have been shielded from the heaviest burdens of war.
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April When Does International Humanitarian Law Call for the Releasing Prisoners in Armed Conflicts Nathalie Weizmann Just Security
2 April 2015
On March 30, lawyers representing five Afghan detainees at Guantanamo Bay asked President Obama and four senior administration officials to release their clients on the grounds that there is no legal basis for their detention now that President Obama and other officials have declared an end to the combat mission in Afghanistan and to "America's longest war." This request comes alongside a renewed habeas challenge from their clients' fellow Afghan detainee, Mukhtar al Warafi, on the same grounds. The author examines the position in International armed conflict, Non-international armed conflict, and The end of hostilities vs. the end of armed conflict, and gives examples of practice. This is an excellent article.
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March Clearing the Fog of Law: Saving our armed forces from defeat by judicial diktat Richard Ekins, Jonathan Morgan, Tom Tugendhat Policy Exchange
March 2015
The British military is now thoroughly entangled in the net of human rights law – often to the benefit of our country's adversaries. The British armed forces remain the most accomplished in Europe; but they suffer courtroom defeat after courtroom defeat in London and Strasbourg. The tipping point was Smith v Ministry of Defence (2013). The UK Supreme Court established for the first time that soldiers injured in battle or the families of those killed in action may sue the Government for negligence in tort law – and for breach of the "Right to Life" under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). In Al Saadoon & Others v Secretary of State for Defence, the High Court made it clear that the consequence of these judgments is that the ECHR applies wherever and whenever a British soldier employs force: shooting an individual is now enough to bring that foreign national into the jurisdiction of the UK under the terms of Article 1 of the ECHR. So foreign nationals, including enemy combatants, may now sue Britain for breach of the ECHR – both in domestic courts, by virtue of the Human Rights Act 1998, and in Strasbourg. These judicial developments have paved the way for a "spike" in litigation. So where next for Britain's increasingly powerful judges? As the military's expeditionary capabilities decline, those of the judiciary seem to grow. This new form of judicial imperialism should urgently be reversed. The judiciary is the wrong body to hold the Government and the armed forces to account for the way that war is waged — by retrospectively reviewing their purchasing, training and combat decisions. This is properly a matter for Ministerial accountability, to Parliament and through Parliament to the public. The British armed forces should not be above the law. But which law? The ever-expanding reach of the ECHR is now supplanting far more practical laws of war — the current Geneva Conventions and later Protocols under which our forces have fought since 1949. By contrast, the ECHR — which is partly incorporated into British domestic law under the Human Rights Act 1998 – is designed for conditions of peace in post-war Europe. It is a wholly impracticable code for regulating the conduct of the British military in violent combat scenarios. What place do peacetime concepts of "proportionality" have on the battlefield? This folly reaches its apogee on the question of the detention of insurgents. It is surely absurd that European and British courts now expect our forces to operate in violent combat conditions according to a system more suited to the regulation of police powers on a Saturday night in the West End of London. The result is a highly confusing variable legal geometry for British commanders. Are the Geneva Conventions supreme, or is it the ECHR/Human Rights Act?
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March The Juridification of the British Armed Forces and the European Convention on Human Rights: 'Because It's Judgment that Defeats Us' Aurel Sari SSRN
18 March 2015
For a number of years, senior commanders, politicians and commentators have voiced their concerns that legal constraints are undermining the operational freedom of Britain's armed forces to an ever greater extent. Tighter legal regulation and the prospects of litigation are blamed for making soldiers increasingly risk-averse, corroding trust in the chain of command and weakening operational effectiveness. These concerns lay bare a substantial degree of unease about the role that law and legal processes play in an area as sensitive as the deployment of the military. However, whilst it is widely acknowledged that the progressive juridification of the British armed forces presents significant challenges, no consensus exists on the nature and true extent of its impact on military operations.
The article makes two main claims. First, the legal framework governing the activities of Britain's armed forces is multilayered and therefore more complex than has sometimes been admitted. It is therefore unrealistic to expect that the process of juridification can be arrested or even reversed. The military ethos can be safeguarded from legal constraints only by striking a balance between the competing legal and policy considerations involved. Maintaining such a balance calls for a constant and proactive effort on part of the armed forces and the Government. Second, the progressive extension of international human rights law to the armed forces, in particular to overseas military operations, presents significant challenges. It is a source of legal uncertainty and has demanded wide-ranging adjustments in the way the armed forces conduct their business. The impact of international human rights law on the law of armed conflict is of particular concern, as it threatens to tilt the balance between military and humanitarian considerations in favour of the latter. However, claims that human rights law is incompatible with the armed forces are exaggerated and unconvincing as a matter of law, fact and policy. The notion that the UK should designate the law of armed conflict as the relevant body of law to govern overseas operations paints too schematic a picture of the applicable law.
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March Custom's Method and Process: Lessons from Humanitarian Law Monica Hakimi Custom's Future: International Law in a Changing World (Curtis Bradley ed., 2015 Forthcoming);
Social Science Research Network
16 March 2015
Much of the literature on customary international law (CIL) goes to method: what is the proper method for "finding" CIL — that is, for determining that particular norms qualify as CIL? The principal goals of this literature are to help identify whether norms that are claimed to be CIL are really CIL and thus to reduce the volatility and susceptibility to abuse in CIL. I argue in this book chapter that the method for finding CIL might be so elusive because the question itself is misconceived. The question of how to find CIL presupposes that finding CIL is an objective exercise and somehow removed from the process for making CIL. The process is notoriously undisciplined and politically charged; disparate actors promote their own interests by advancing and responding to one another's legal claims. The methodological question assumes that CIL-finding is distinct — that actors who find CIL do not advance their own agendas but rather assess the evidence objectively, and thus that their decisions help weed out invalid claims and settle CIL. I use the recent rise of CIL in international humanitarian law to show that these assumptions are flawed. CIL-finding is deeply entangled with CIL-making. The two exercises operate in much the same way and through the same process, so they share similar limitations. My argument has two practical implications. First, non-state actors can play a much larger role in the formation of CIL than the literature now recognizes. Second, methods for finding CIL are unlikely to discipline global actors or to impose order on CIL, so long as the process for making CIL remains highly undisciplined and disordered.
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12  March Self-Defence and Non-State Actors in the Cold War Era Tom Ruys Opinio Juris
12 March 2015
An interesting and valuable assessment of arguments relating to a discussion between Kevin and Marty Lederman revolving essentially around the legality of self-defence against attacks by non-State actors in the Charter era. Kevin takes the position that throughout the Cold War attacks by non-State actors were generally only regarded as 'armed attacks' in the sense of Article 51 UN Charter inasmuch as they could be imputed to a State. The author doubts that the Caroline case has much relevance today, as the world has moved on since then and article 51 sets the parameters for self defence and that pre-Charter precedents must be put into perspective. He takes a valuable look at the discussion on 'indirect aggression' when a State is victim in its own territory of subversive and/or terrorist acts by irregular, volunteer or armed bands organized or supported by another State.
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10  March Hybrid War: Old Wine in a New Bottle? Dr. Harlan K. Ullman Huffington Post
10 March 2015
It is seductive to conclude that "hybrid war" is a creature of the 21st century in which technology now offers an alternative and indeed, a reinforcement to the blunter use of military force. Based on successful Russian encroachment into Ukraine and occupation of Crimea with hybrid war tactics, it is fair to ask if that could happen to the Baltic States. Hence, a real revolution in military affairs for the United States is urgently needed. And that revolution must start with the civilian side of the government, not the Pentagon. Unless or until elected leaders understand they are dealing with old wine in new bottles, that wine could easily turn to geostrategic vinegar souring everyone's taste.
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10  March The Doctrine of Legitimate Defense  The Doctrine of Legitimate Defence Jens David Ohlin International Law Studies
91 Intl L Stud 119
Contemporary debates surrounding unilateral intervention have rightly centered on Article 51 of the UN Charter and its codification of the right of self-defense. In the absence of a Security Council authorization or a valid Article 51 argument, interventions are deemed illegal – an intolerable situation that has triggered several ad hoc attempts to explain or justify humanitarian intervention via new or invented exceptions to the Charter scheme, including the much – heralded responsibility to protect doctrine. This essay argues that a better solution resides within – not outside – Article 51 itself. The solution depends on recognizing the great complexity of Article 51, especially its explicit incorporation of natural law by reference to the droit naturel to légitime défense. The effect of this incorporation was to preserve and protect, as a carve-out from the prohibition against force codified in Article 2 of the Charter, the rights of defensive force that applied in natural law (and so continue to be protected by Article 51). This is the doctrine of legitimate defense.
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4  March Beyond Drones: The Next-Generation of Autonomous Weapons Cannot be Developed in Secrecy John Reed Just Security
March 9, 2015
It's no secret that the United States and other nations are pouring billions of dollars into developing lethal robots capable of making their own targeting decisions that operate everywhere from aircraft carriers to land and under the oceans. These machines have been developed in conjunction with a suite of top-secret digital weapons and intelligence gathering tools that do everything from turn domestic cellphones into surreptitious recording devices to wreak havoc inside foreign nuclear facilities and much more. Such secret digital weapons and tools have given the world's governments the ability to learn immense amounts about their citizens' lives with unprecedented ease. Yet these capabilities, and the methods by which they are used, were developed in almost total obscurity, with little input from the societies they affect. The new weapon systems being imagined by Pentagon planners have the potential to amplify this power by an unknown amount. We cannot afford to let the next generation of digital-age weapons be developed under similar secrecy.
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4  March Conceptions of War and Paradigms of Compliance: The 'New War' Challenge to International Humanitarian Law Nicolas Lamp Journal of Conflict and Security Law, (2011)
Volume 16, Issue 2, Pp. 225-262, 24 May 2011
The article argues that the so-called 'new wars' pose a fundamental challenge to international humanitarian law (IHL). Although not historically new, this type of war differs in crucial respects from the conception of war that underlies the traditional paradigm of compliance of IHL. At the heart of this paradigm lie certain assumptions: that IHL embodies a compromise between the interests of the warring parties and humanitarian concerns, and that the warring parties face a number of incentives to comply with the law. The article argues that these assumptions lose their plausibility under the circumstances of the 'new wars'. As a result, the traditional enforcement mechanisms of IHL invariably fail in these conflicts. The second part of the article discusses the international legal response to the 'new wars'. In particular, it considers international criminal prosecutions, the activities of the International Committee of the Red Cross and measures by the United Nations Security Council. In the common elements of these measures the article identifies the contours of a new paradigm of compliance in IHL that shifts the emphasis from voluntary compliance to external enforcement.
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27  February The Super Smart Way to Dismantle ISIS Eli Berman,  Joseph H. Felter,  Jacob H. Shapiro The National Interest
27 February 2015
The fight against IS is, in fact, several different wars against the same enemy, with porous fronts that only occasionally resemble contiguous state boundaries. Therefore, finding the right strategy will require working with our allies in the Middle East to define their objectives and limitations–including an honest assessment of which territories matter enough for them to commit troops on the ground and eventually govern–and build our policy accordingly.
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27  February The EU and Russia:  before and beyond the crisis in Ukraine House of Lords, European Union Committee 6th Report of Session 2014—15,   pdf format
HTML File
20 February 2015
Russian actions in Ukraine need to be understood within both the particular historical context of Ukraine and a broader Russian pattern of behaviour in the neighbourhood. The situation now is very different from 1991, when the Soviet Union peacefully disintegrated into 15 countries. It was apparent even then that Ukraine, in particular, and the Baltic states to some extent, held a special place in the hearts and minds of the Russian people. The Russian democrats that emerged made great efforts to keep Ukraine as close as possible. Russian actions in Ukraine today occur in the context of its continued involvement in a number of territorial and ethnic disputes throughout the post–Soviet space which threaten the sovereignty of these states. While the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia (Georgia), Transnistria (Moldova) and Nagorno–Karabakh (Azerbaijan and Armenia)are still unresolved – and with Crimea and Donbas now added to the list –the potential for further conflict remains high. Multiple witnesses have pointed out to us that Russia's policies are based on long–standing threat perceptions, historical grievances and issues surrounding Russia's identity. It is important that these perceptions should be better understood in the West, although that does not mean accepting the premises on which they are based. [Ed, is this a euphemism for the adage, "know thine enemy"?].
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17  February The Fine Line Between Collective Self-Defense and Intervention by Invitation: Reflections on the Use of Force against 'IS' in Syria Claus Kreß  Claus Kress Just Security
17 February 2015
A key question in the fight against the Islamic State is the legality of use of force inside Syria. Professor Kreß adds an especially significant argument to the discussion in his analysis of President Assad's invitation to the U.S. on condition of military cooperation and whether the U.S. can lawfully reject that offer. The vast territory under control by the murderous non-State organization Islamic State covers parts of Iraq and Syria. This makes it seem somewhat artificial to non-lawyers to distinguish between these two States when discussing the international legality of the use of force against the Islamic State. Yet, the intervening States do precisely this and some of them continue even to limit their forcible action to the territory of Iraq. The legal justification given for the use of force in Iraq is "intervention by invitation." But Iraq's invitation does not extend to Syria. Bashar al-Assad also invited the United States to use force against the Islamic State, but only in the form of "coordinated action." President Obama has rejected this offer. The author argues it is in fact Syria's record of systematic violations of international law that provides the best legal explanation for rejecting his invitation. Indeed, the rejection of his offer may be legally compelled.
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11  February IHL Does Authorise Detention in NIAC: What the Sceptics Get Wrong Sean Aughey & Aurel Sari EJIL Talk
11 February 2015
The authors challenge those academics who argue that defend the view that IHL does not provide States with a legal authority to detain persons in a non-international armed conflict (NIAC). In this post, they outline their challenge to this proposition as mistaken in law and undesirable as a matter of policy (for a more detailed version of their argument, see their recent article in International Law Studies here). Despite Leggatt J's meticulous analysis, the authors do not find the reasoning persuasive. None of the five arguments exclude the possibility that a legal basis for detention exists under customary international law. Even if correct, they establish only the absence of an implicit legal basis under Common Article 3 (CA3) of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the relevant provisions of Additional Protocol II of 1977 (AP II). However, Leggatt J's reading of these provisions is too narrow. In particular, it misconstrues the nature and purpose of IHL as a body of law. [The case was argued in the Court of Appeal on 12th February 2015].
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10  February Human Rights on the Battlefield Jordan J. Paust 47 George Washington International Law Review, No. 4, 2015, Forthcoming; U of Houston Law Center No. 2015-A-3
10 February 2015
Available on SSRN
Previously, the US Executive made an astonishing claim that human rights law does not apply during an armed conflict. Others have claimed that even if human rights law generally applies it is trumped or displaced by applicable laws of war through operation of an alleged primacy of laws of war as so-called lex specialis. Neither claim has merit. As this article demonstrates, in view of overwhelming patterns of legal expectation and international and domestic decisions a claim that human rights law does not apply during war is decidedly false and cannot be taken seriously. Similarly, there is no support in treaties or customary international law for a broad law of war displacement of human rights that are applicable during war. Significantly, the opposite can occur. As demonstrated in this article, customary human rights have a recognized and unavoidable primacy in any social context as rights based in the United Nations Charter, some customary human rights have an additional peremptory status in any social context as rights jus cogens, and some treaty-based human rights are nonderogable during war and in any other social context. The important issues are not whether human rights law can apply during war or is necessarily displaced, but who has a relevant human right, in what particular context during war, with what identifiable criteria regarding its reach and content, and with what consequences with respect to the conduct of war. As noted in this article, compliance with global human rights law on a foreign battlefield should not inhibit use of lawful measures of warfare under the laws of war. Indeed, some law of war requirements provide contextually relevant meaning, some are symmetrical, and some are more strict and limiting than those under global human rights law. More generally, compliance with laws of war on a foreign battlefield should assure compliance with global human rights law.
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10  February IHL Doesn't Regulate NIAC Internment  –  A Drafting History Perspective Jonathan Horowitz Opinio Juris
9 February 2015
The author looks back on the drafting history of Additional Protocol II which, in his view, reveals that 1) IHL was not crafted to provide regulations (neither the grounds nor procedures) for NIAC internment and 2) IHL does not have a structure that permits its IAC internment regulations to apply to NIAC. That's not to say States can't intern; it's to say that when they do, the sources of internment regulations are found not in IHL but primarily in domestic law and international human rights law. Lack of internment regulations in the IHL of NIAC is supported by the fact that Common Article 3 and Additional Protocol II, the two main sources of treaty law regulating NIAC, provide no such rules. This absence is both indisputable and in contrast to the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions, which are replete with regulations on IAC internment. Protocol I also contains internment regulations. He argues that the absence of internment procedures in Additional Protocol II is also in contrast to numerous penal prosecution procedures found in Article 6 of Additional Protocol II and, to a lesser degree, Common Article 3. For these reasons, it's clear that while the drafters of Protocol II explicitly recognized that parties to a NIAC are permitted to intern, the drafters also chose not to put in place internment regulations.
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5  February Authorization vs. Regulation of Detention: What Serdar Mohammed v. MoD Got Right and Wrong Ryan Goodman Just Security
5 February 2015
The UK Court of Appeal will soon hear the appeal in Serdar Mohammed v. Ministry of Defense, a highly important case in which the UK High Court held that the long-term detention of a suspected Taliban commander by British forces was unlawful–and, by extension, so was the general long-term detention policy of British forces in Afghanistan. (See Ruchi Parekh's terrific primer and preview of the upcoming Court of Appeal hearings). The author says that the lower court's judgment deservedly received accolades from international law experts for its extraordinarily informed and thoughtful analysis across a range of challenging international legal questions. He agrees with a core part of the High Court's holding, but respectfully disagrees with a significant part of the rationale the court used as a basis for reaching that result. His hope is that the Court of Appeal will not repeat those mistakes.
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4  February UK Court of Appeal to assess legality of detentions in Afghanistan Ruchi Parekh Just Security
4 February 2015
Last May, the High Court handed down judgment in Serdar Mohammed (full text) holding that the 110-day detention of a suspected Taliban commander, SM, by UK forces in Afghanistan was unlawful under Article 5 (right to liberty) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). One important angle likely to be the focus of arguments in the appeal is the relationship between IHL and international human rights law (IHRL) (and specifically, Article 5 on the right to liberty). This is particularly the case as there have been two noteworthy developments in the debate over detention powers and the relationship between IHL and IHRL since the High Court ruling. First, the Grand Chamber (GC) of the European Court of Human Rights issued its decision in Hassan v UK last September, where the court found that the UK did not violate Hassan's ECHR rights while he was a prisoner of British forces in Iraq in 2003, although he was found to be within the UK's jurisdiction and control. Second, the UN Human Rights Committee adopted General Comment No. 35 on Article 9 of the ICCPR (right to liberty), which has important implications for international law regulating detentions. The language used by the Committee strongly suggests that IHL does not regulate detention in NIAC, lending further support to Mr Justice Leggatt's reasoning.
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3  February Targeting and Detention in Non-International Armed Conflict: Serdar Mohammed and the Limits of Human Rights Convergence Aurel Sari and Sean Aughey 91 INT'L L. STUD. 60 (2015)
3 February 2015
SSRN-id2559907; Size: 761K
In recent years, the United Kingdom has seen a steady flow of legal challenges arising out of its involvement in the armed conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Among these, the case of Serdar Mohammed, decided by the English High Court in May 2014, is of particular interest because of its wider implications. In essence, the High Court's judgment in Mohammed questions the existence of a legal basis under the law of armed conflict for the conduct of status-based operations in non-international armed conflicts. This article demonstrates that the restrictive approach adopted by the High Court in Mohammed is mistaken as a matter of law and undesirable as a matter of policy. In short, Mohammed drives the convergence between international human rights law and the law of armed conflict too far. This paper is a very valuable contribution to the debate about detention operations in NIAC.
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2  February The Airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq and the Alleged Prohibition on Military Assistance to Governments in Civil Wars Dapo Akande & Zachary Vermeer EJIL Talk
2 February 2015
Since the initiation of the US-led airstrikes against Islamic State (or ISIL) forces in Iraq and Syria in August and September of last year, the legality of the strikes in Syria has been the subject of much discussion. Much of the focus has been on whether collective self-defence — of Iraq — allows the use of force against non-State actors in foreign territory (Syria), where the territorial State (Syria) is 'unable or unwilling' to stop the attacks itself. However, the legality of airstrikes occurring on Iraqi territory does not appear to have occasioned any discussion at all (although see this previous post on the debate in the British House of Commons on authorising the use of force in Iraq). In the case of Iraq, where the internationally recognised government consents to the attacks, a closer look at the scholarship on consent to the use of force reveals that the legality of what has variously been called 'intervention by invitation' or 'military assistance on request' has traditionally been more contentious than this simple statement would suggest.
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21  January The Status of Armed Forces in Public International Law: Jurisdiction and Immunity Dr Aurel Sari SSRN
21 January 2015
The presence of foreign troops in the territory of another State raises a range of legal questions. Foremost amongst these are questions of status: what jurisdictional privileges and immunities from local jurisdiction do foreign forces enjoy in another State? International law does not provide a straightforward answer to this question. No overarching legal framework has developed in international law to regulate the legal position of foreign armed forces in a comprehensive manner. The objectives pursued by foreign military deployments and their operational environments are too diverse. The legal framework governing the presence of foreign armed forces is therefore multifaceted and will remain so for the foreseeable future.
Unsurprisingly, this creates uncertainty as to the position of customary international law in this area, reinforcing the preference of States and international organizations to define the status of foreign troops by way of tailor-made international agreements. However, international practice recognizes that the unique composition, responsibilities and nature of the armed forces raise special legal and practical considerations. This is reflected both in customary international law and in international treaty practice.
The purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview of the rules of international law governing the exercise of jurisdiction over national armed forces present in the territory of another State. Section 2 offers a general introduction to the position of the armed forces in international law. Section 3 discusses the legal bases for the exercise of jurisdiction over military personnel present abroad, while section 4 examines the jurisdictional immunities applicable to such forces and their members under general international law. Finally, section 5 turns to the relevant aspects of status of forces agreements.
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January 2015 Joint Doctrine Publication (JDP) 1-10 (2nd Edition) - Captured Persons Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (Development, Concepts and Doctrine) Joint Doctrine Publication 1-10 (JDP 1-10) (3nd Edition) January 2015
Joint Doctrine Publication (JDP) 1-10 (3rd Edition), Captured Persons (CPERS), is the capstone doctrine publication for all CPERS activities. It is based on the legal framework governing CPERS and is, therefore, more prescriptive than core joint doctrine. JDP 1-10 (3rd Edition) contains enduring principles and best practice, setting out guidance for the strategic level together with the fundamental rules and principles that apply at the operational level. Importantly, it also reflects the UK Government's policy and guidance resulting from recent operations.
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21  January How to Interpret the UN Human Rights Committee's Comment on National Security Detentions: State Party Submissions Ruchi Parekh Just Security
21 January 2015
Last October, the United Nations Human Rights Committee adopted General Comment No. 35 (GC) which has important implications for international law regulating detentions, including in wartime. The Committee focused on Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person). At Just Security, both Shaheed Fatima (here and here) and Jonathan Horowitz (here) have offered their views on parts of the GC that are important from a national security perspective. The author highlights three aspects of the state submissions to the Committee in the course of drafting the GC, focusing on the submissions of the US, UK, and Canadian governments. (The full list of submissions received by the Committee can be viewed here.) The state submissions are important for two reasons. First, they can help in the interpretation of the GC, particularly where they highlight what the Committee knew at the drafting stage but presumably rejected when finalizing the text. Second, the submissions document the state parties' interpretations of the treaty, which will remain relevant as a matter of domestic and international law regardless of the GC.
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12  January Accountability for Armed Contractors by Dr. Ian Ralby Fletcher Security Review
12 January 2015
The rise of private armed contracting was one of the most distinctive operational developments of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater, famously stated: "Our corporate goal is to do for the national security apparatus what FedEx did to the postal service." Throughout both conflicts, the hiring policies of several Western governments, particularly those of the United States, helped Blackwater and numerous other companies move toward that goal. By December 2008, for example, 69% of the United States' total force in Afghanistan was comprised of private contractors, roughly 15% of which were armed. While there are no reliable statistics on the size of the global private armed security industry, there is little doubt that it has grown and contracted with the surge and decline of Western engagement in armed conflict. New conflicts on the horizon, however, suggest the possibility of a resurgence of the industry, reigniting concerns about accountability. This is an important article and a valuable contribution to the debate on private contractors in the battlespace.
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