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Beth van Schaack’s Imagining Justice for Syria

Beth van Schaack’s Imagining Justice for Syria

Editor's note: The following post introduces the upcoming Articles of War Symposium on Beth Van Schaack’s book, Imagining Justice for Syria. Ten years into the conflict, this symposium provides an opportunity to assess the state of justice and accountability that...

The Legitimate Aims of Self-Defense

The Legitimate Aims of Self-Defense

The United States' strike on Iranian-backed militias along the Syria-Iraq border on February 25 and the accompanying justifications, communications, and explanations have produced a flurry of legal discourse across the blogosphere and social media (here, here and...

Is the Time for Law of War Treaty Commentaries Over?

Is the Time for Law of War Treaty Commentaries Over?

  In two recent Articles of War posts, Sean Watts and Michael Meier criticized the Updated Commentary of Geneva Convention III. Rather than focusing on specific interpretations adopted or suggesting other interpretations, Michael Meier criticized the Commentary’s...

Experts Weigh in on Law of Armed Conflict Priorities

Experts Weigh in on Law of Armed Conflict Priorities

  Presidential transitions present natural opportunities to reconsider national priorities. With the inauguration of a new administration, we asked our Lieber Senior Fellows and Lieber Distinguished Scholar what each considers to be the main law of armed conflict...

Opinio Juris and the Essential Role of States

Opinio Juris and the Essential Role of States

  Scholars, jurists, and practitioners have increasingly come to rely on non-State expressions to explain the customary law of armed conflict. This trend is problematic because it runs counter to how customary international law is created and should be...

The Updated GCIII Commentary: A Flawed Methodology?

The Updated GCIII Commentary: A Flawed Methodology?

  In June of 2020, as part of its ongoing multi-year effort, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) launched its updated Commentary on the Third Geneva Convention of 1949. The Commentary analyzes how practice in the application and interpretation of...

Lessons for Legal Advisors from the Brereton Report

Lessons for Legal Advisors from the Brereton Report

International humanitarian law practitioners and scholars have justifiably dedicated attention to the recent report of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Inspector General into allegations of violations of the law of armed conflict (LOAC) in Afghanistan, known as the...

Is the Lieber Code Humanitarian?

Is the Lieber Code Humanitarian?

  Some critics maintain that the Lieber Code is not humanitarian. They are surprised and disappointed that Francis Lieber—one of the fathers of the modern law of war and an inspiration for the Hague Conferences—fails to meet their expectations. But such...

A Review of U.S. Space Force’s First Year

A Review of U.S. Space Force’s First Year

  The newest branch of the U.S. military, the United States Space Force, was mandated by Congress and signed into law and existence by the President on December 19, 2019. The Space Force Professionals, now called Guardians, of the U.S. Air Force had been...

The Duty to Investigate War Crimes

The Duty to Investigate War Crimes

  On November 19, 2020, a report of the Australian Defence Force’s Inspector-General was released following a four-year investigation into allegations of unlawful killings and mistreatment of non-combatants and persons hors-de-combat in Afghanistan (also known as...

Interpretation in the Updated GCIII Commentary

Interpretation in the Updated GCIII Commentary

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Updated Commentary to the Third Geneva Convention is a remarkable feat of scholarship worthy of serious academic attention. It leaves almost no interpretive stone unturned in its effort to identify the humanitarian...

Motive and Control in Defining Attacks

Motive and Control in Defining Attacks

In the appellate case of The Prosecutor v. Bosco Ntaganda, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court asked for briefs from “qualified publicists with the requisite expertise, who are interested in submitting observations on” the definition of “attack” as...

A Radical Reimagining of the Concept of “Attack”

A Radical Reimagining of the Concept of “Attack”

  The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) filed its Appeals Brief In the Case of the Prosecutor v. Bosco Ntaganda on 7 October 2019, almost precisely a year prior to the time of this writing. The Prosecution argument attempts to expand the war crime found in the Rome...

Biometrics on the Battlefield

Biometrics on the Battlefield

  We use biometrics on a daily basis. You need only think of unlocking your phone with your fingerprint, using iris recognition to pass through airport security, or the biometrics integrated into your passport. Considering the possibilities this technology...

NATO in Outer Space: A Domain Too Far?

NATO in Outer Space: A Domain Too Far?

  This post examines whether Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty is applicable to armed attacks in outer space. NATO nations have recently recognized outer space as a new operational domain for the Alliance. Although the drafters of the North Atlantic Treaty...

Whither Recognition of Belligerency?

Whither Recognition of Belligerency?

  Delineating, defining, and dealing with how the law of armed conflict applies to civil wars and other non-international armed conflicts (NIACs) has presented constant legal challenges over the last two decades. Numerous questions have arisen. What is the legal...

Space Power, Space Force, and Space Law

Space Power, Space Force, and Space Law

  Space is a unique operational domain not only due to its physics, but also due to its legal regime. Although Space Power, the inaugural doctrinal manual of the U.S. Space Force, does not focus on legal issues in and of themselves, it does mention at least one...

Imagining Justice for Syria

Imagining Justice for Syria

  The situation in Syria poses an acute—some might say existential—challenge to the international community’s commitment to justice and accountability. The conflict has been so destructive, the crime base so massive, the pool of potential defendants so...

Welcome to Articles of War

Welcome to Articles of War

Welcome It’s our sincere pleasure to introduce you to Articles of War, the new digital publication of the Lieber Institute for Law & Land Warfare at West Point. In this initial post we’ll share our plans and introduce you to our editorial team. But first a quick...

Francis Lieber’s Living Legacy

Francis Lieber’s Living Legacy

It is an honor to pen one of the first posts for the Lieber Institute for Law and Land Warfare’s Articles of War. This forum provides an important venue for practitioners of the law of war to engage with each other—both domestically and internationally—to articulate...

Targeting Non-State “Mixed Groups”

Targeting Non-State “Mixed Groups”

  “Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.” General George Patton, May 31, 1944, Addressing the 6th Armored Division Sounds simple, but deceptively...