Presenter Information

Louise Doswald-Beck

Event Website

http://law.scu.edu/humanitarian

Start Date

3-2-2012 4:15 PM

End Date

3-2-2012 5:15 PM

Description

I have been invited to address any topic relating to emerging issues in international humanitarian law (IHL). When considering which subject to address, I decided to avoid a specific IHL topic, some of which are being addressed in depth during this symposium, but rather to take a step back and consider some of the more fundamental challenges that IHL is now facing.

The most pressing challenge, in my opinion, is the trend of IHL being misused to justify killings which are of dubious legality under the law relating to the use of inter-State force. The purpose of IHL is supposed to be to prevent avoidable death and destruction, not the reverse. I am thinking here primarily of the rise in targeted killings abroad of non-State actors, on the basis that these are justified as attacks on fighters in a non-international armed conflict. Such attacks have been facilitated by the increased availability of armed drones. It needs to be remembered that any practice that is acquiesced in by the international community can then easily be undertaken by other countries against targets that they perceive as threats. Furthermore, this trend is straining further the two classical IHL categories, into which various activities, such as UN operations and mixed conflicts, do not easily fit. There needs to be a serious reconsideration of whether it is possible to speak of “rules of armed conflict” without first classifying the violence as international or non-international.

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Feb 3rd, 4:15 PM Feb 3rd, 5:15 PM

Unexpected challenges: the increasingly evident disadvantage of considering international humanitarian law in isolation [Keynote Address]

I have been invited to address any topic relating to emerging issues in international humanitarian law (IHL). When considering which subject to address, I decided to avoid a specific IHL topic, some of which are being addressed in depth during this symposium, but rather to take a step back and consider some of the more fundamental challenges that IHL is now facing.

The most pressing challenge, in my opinion, is the trend of IHL being misused to justify killings which are of dubious legality under the law relating to the use of inter-State force. The purpose of IHL is supposed to be to prevent avoidable death and destruction, not the reverse. I am thinking here primarily of the rise in targeted killings abroad of non-State actors, on the basis that these are justified as attacks on fighters in a non-international armed conflict. Such attacks have been facilitated by the increased availability of armed drones. It needs to be remembered that any practice that is acquiesced in by the international community can then easily be undertaken by other countries against targets that they perceive as threats. Furthermore, this trend is straining further the two classical IHL categories, into which various activities, such as UN operations and mixed conflicts, do not easily fit. There needs to be a serious reconsideration of whether it is possible to speak of “rules of armed conflict” without first classifying the violence as international or non-international.

http://digitalcommons.law.scu.edu/humanitarian/symposium/track/1