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The Israeli Unlawful Combatants Law Turns Twenty

The Israeli Unlawful Combatants Law Turns Twenty

Twenty years ago, in 2002, Israel enacted the Law on Incarceration of Unlawful Combatants (UCL or “the Law”). The UCL aimed to provide a basis in domestic legislation, in conformity with international law, for preventively detaining unlawful combatants, namely, those...

Ukraine Symposium – Targeting Leadership

Ukraine Symposium – Targeting Leadership

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky recently spoke at length in Time magazine about assassination attempts against him. He indicated that Russian paratroopers had approached his location immediately after the invasion and that he heard nearby firefights from his...

Talking About “War Crimes”

Talking About “War Crimes”

In May 2022, just a few months after Russia began its war on Ukraine, Ukrainian civilian prosecutors secured convictions against three captured Russian soldiers. The first, a young sergeant convicted of following an order to kill an unarmed 62-year-old civilian, was...

Ukraine Symposium – Photos of the Dead

Ukraine Symposium – Photos of the Dead

As the death toll in the war between Russia and Ukraine climbs, the issue of how to properly treat the remains of dead soldiers has become a recurring theme (see, e.g., here and here). Some media reports claim, for example, that Ukrainian forces are publishing...

Urban Siege Warfare: A Workshop Report

Urban Siege Warfare: A Workshop Report

[Editor's note: The views expressed in this piece are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the ICRC, PILAC, or other participants.] Siege is a well-established practice in warfare. It seeks to compel surrender, reduce adversary resistance, or lay the...

Can Starlink Satellites Be Lawfully Targeted?

Can Starlink Satellites Be Lawfully Targeted?

In an earlier post, I discussed the special attribution regime in Article VI of the Outer Space Treaty (OST) and the risk of activities of commercial actors drawing States into existing armed conflicts. This analysis stemmed from Elon Musk providing Starlink services...

A Queer Eye on the Law of Armed Conflict

A Queer Eye on the Law of Armed Conflict

Author’s note: This post reflects a presentation given at the twenty-second congress of the International Society for Military Law and the Law of War (ISMLLW) held in Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, between May 10 and 14, 2022 within a panel dedicated to gender awareness...

The Law of Cyber Conflict: Quo Vadis?

The Law of Cyber Conflict: Quo Vadis?

[Editor’s note: The following post highlights a subject addressed in the Lieber Studies volume The Future Law of Armed Conflict, which was published 27 May 2022. For a general introduction to this volume, see Professor Matt Waxman’s introductory post.]   Using...

Alleged UK War Crimes in Afghanistan

Alleged UK War Crimes in Afghanistan

The Alleged Crimes and the Australian Parallels An investigation by the BBC television news program Panorama has reported that U.K. “SAS operatives in Afghanistan repeatedly killed detainees and unarmed men.” Intentionally killing detained persons or those hors de...

The Future Law of Neutrality

The Future Law of Neutrality

Editor’s note: The following post highlights a subject addressed in the Lieber Studies volume The Future Law of Armed Conflict, which was published 27 May 2022. For a general introduction to this volume, see Professor Matt Waxman’s introductory post.   Months...

Drone Strikes, Military Advantage, and Armed Conflict

Drone Strikes, Military Advantage, and Armed Conflict

In my new book Drone Strike: Analyzing the Impacts of Targeted Killing, I review evidence about the impacts of U.S. targeted strikes outside war zones on Al Qaeda and associated forces (“Al Qaeda”), as well as civilians, over the last 20 years. This evidence includes...

Coding the Law of Armed Conflict: First Steps

Coding the Law of Armed Conflict: First Steps

[Editor’s note: The following post highlights a subject addressed in the Lieber Studies volume The Future Law of Armed Conflict, which was published 27 May 2022. For a general introduction to this volume, see Professor Matt Waxman’s introductory post.]   Killer...

Ukraine Symposium – Lessons from Syria’s Ceasefires

Ukraine Symposium – Lessons from Syria’s Ceasefires

Ceasefires are generally seen by academics, policy makers, and military and political personnel as being humanitarian and positive, or at worst, benign. However, increasing research and first-hand experience shows that, in fact, the consequences of ceasefires are...

Military Markings and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Military Markings and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

The duty to distinguish oneself from non-combatants and civilians (e.g., by wearing a uniform or distinctive emblem) is a characteristic of every domain of warfare, including the aerial environment. In naval and air warfare, the main focus of distinction is on...

U.S. Strike Cells: Dispelling the Myths

U.S. Strike Cells: Dispelling the Myths

Last August, in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the world witnessed a disastrous incident in Kabul when ten Afghan civilians, including up to seven children, were killed by a U.S. drone strike meant for ISIS. It was a truly tragic event, without...

Ukraine Symposium – Is the Law of Neutrality Dead?

Ukraine Symposium – Is the Law of Neutrality Dead?

The 2022 Russia-Ukraine conflict has rekindled the debate about the validity of qualified neutrality during an international armed conflict. The concept is sometimes also referred to as benevolent neutrality. Since Russia’s invasion this year, nearly 40 nations,...

The Law of Armed Conflict in 2040

The Law of Armed Conflict in 2040

In the summer of 2020, the Lieber Institute team and I convened a workshop at West Point titled “LOAC 2040.” We invited a group of law of armed conflict (LOAC) scholars and practitioners from around the world, and with a range of perspectives, to consider how that...

Abu ‘Aram: Displacement of Persons, Displacement of Law

Abu ‘Aram: Displacement of Persons, Displacement of Law

On May 4, 2022, Israel’s Supreme Court sitting as High Court of Justice handed down its decision in HCJ 413/13 Abu ‘Aram v. The Minister of Defense. This decision granted the Israeli military authorities permission to displace over 1,000 Palestinians (and possibly as...

Ukraine Symposium – Are We at War?

Ukraine Symposium – Are We at War?

Last week, allegations that the United States and a number of other NATO nations are providing intelligence to Ukraine that enables attacks against Russian forces continued to surface. Broadly speaking, the reports of intelligence sharing are credible. As Chairman of...

Augmented Reality Battlefield

Augmented Reality Battlefield

States are prioritizing measures to enhance soldiers’ situational awareness during military operations, including the development of augmented reality capabilities. Augmented reality, as distinguished from virtual reality, superimposes digital content on a live view...

Putin and Xi’s Pact for Outer Space

Putin and Xi’s Pact for Outer Space

On the eve of the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a joint statement on entering a new era of international relations—including in outer space. The February 4 statement enunciated the importance of...

The Creeping Normality of LOAC Noncompliance

The Creeping Normality of LOAC Noncompliance

Taking stock of the state of the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) may be one of the most important tasks facing international law today. In that vein, it is well worth asking whether the Law of Armed Conflict is still “fit for purpose”? As the current conflict in Ukraine...

Ukraine Symposium – Unprecedented Environmental Risks

Ukraine Symposium – Unprecedented Environmental Risks

Environmental damage in armed conflict is generally caused in four ways: (1) the conduct of hostilities, i.e., the use of means and methods of warfare (weapons and tactics); (2) natural resource extraction and exploitation; (3) the military environmental footprint in...

Ukraine Symposium – War Crimes against Children

Ukraine Symposium – War Crimes against Children

For the 452 million children living in conflict zones (1 in 6 globally), the effects of conflict are multiple, wide-ranging, and devastating. With an increase in asymmetric warfare globally, children are targets of horrific acts of violence, including killing,...

Hunter 2-S Swarming Attack Drones: Legal & Ethical Dimensions

Hunter 2-S Swarming Attack Drones: Legal & Ethical Dimensions

Halcon, a defense company based in the United Arab Emirates, unveiled its aerial fleet of swarming drones—Hunter 2-S—at the Unmanned System Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi on February 21, 2022. The small-sized Hunter 2-S modular launching system is the latest...

Command Responsibility and the Ukraine Conflict

Command Responsibility and the Ukraine Conflict

The news on the conflict in Ukraine is replete with violations of international humanitarian law (IHL), conveying the impression that soldiers have either been ordered to commit these crimes or have been allowed to do so (or a combination thereof). In the latter case,...

Weaponizing Food

Weaponizing Food

The conflict in Ukraine is threatening the world’s food system. For instance, Ukraine and Russia supply around 30% of global wheat and barley exports. And over 40% of Ukrainian wheat export goes to Africa, where food shortages are endemic. In a March 25 update, the UN...

The Law and Character of War in 2035

The Law and Character of War in 2035

In fall of 2020, the Lieber Institute for Law and Warfare at West Point joined a U.S. Army Futures Command (AFC) multi-year study on the changing character of warfare. The study has convened three times annually since. Its purpose is to predict and identify...