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Last Year's List

Date Title Author Reference
***New***
January 2020
The Soleimani Strike and Self-Defence Against an Imminent Armed Attack Dr Marko Milanovic EJILTalk,
7 January 2020
The US drone strike on Qassem Soleimani, one of the most important members of the Iranian leadership, raises many complex questions of international law. Professor Milanovic examines the lawfulness of the strike from the standpoint of the law on the use of force. He first sets out the parameters of the US justification for killing Soleimani, which is some variant of self-defence against an imminent armed attack. He then looks at the notion of an imminent attack, at the different ways such an attack can be repelled, and at whether, on the facts as we know them, the US strike should be regarded as lawful.
The author argues that even if one accepts a broad theory of self-defence against an attack that is yet to occur, such as that espoused by the US government itself, the strike is likely to be unlawful. It is improbable that the US would be able to meet the factual requirements that it needs to justify the strike – in particular, there are serious doubts that there even was an imminent attack, and there are serious doubts that the method the US chose to resist that supposed attack was necessary under the circumstances. If such was the case, the US breached the prohibition on the use of force in Article 2(4) of the UN Charter vis-à-vis both Iran and Iraq. Finally, the post looks at the illegality of the threats of further use of force made by President Trump against Iran, which are unlawful both as a matter of the jus ad bellum and the jus in bello.
Summary extracted by Aspals

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***New***
7 January
Three Lingering Questions about the Legality of Withdrawal from Syria: Part I – Complicity by Omission Beatrice Walton and Paul Strauch Opinio Juris,
7 January 2020
This post — the first in a two-part series — considers the law relevant to the U.S. withdrawal from Syria in early October. Experts condemned Turkey's invasion as a violation of Article 2(4) of the UN Charter, an unlawful act of aggression, and as potentially entailing crimes against humanity. Turkish forces and their proxies have reportedly committed a host of violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) in addition, including through indiscriminate attacks, summary killings, torture, and rape against Kurdish populations. The authors take up three legal issues relevant to understanding whether the US was able to abruptly remove its troops and support for the SDF just ahead of Turkey's invasion without incurring international responsibility.
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***New***
4 January 2020
The Soleimani Strike Defied the U.S. Constitution Professor Oona Hathaway The Atlantic,
4 January 2020
The drone strike that killed Major General Qassem Soleimani, leader of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, raises many legal issues, but one of the most significant—at least to the American constitutional order—is that President Donald Trump ordered the strike without so much as informing Democratic leadership in Congress, disregarding Congress's essential role in initiating war. If Congress fails to respond effectively, the constitutional order will be broken beyond repair, and the president will be left with the unmitigated power to take the country to war on his own—anywhere, anytime, for any reason.
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