Symposium Intro: Hays Parks’s Influence on the Law of War
Most developments and codifications of the law of war have been responses to the evolving character of warfare. Indeed, a timeline of law of war treaties reads like a chronicle of changes in the tactics, technologies, and participants in war.
Yet like war itself, there is also a persistent and immutable nature to the regulation of hostilities. While the character of issues regulated has evolved, the nature of the law of war has remained, at its core, an effort to balance humanitarian aspirations and military realities.
No modern commentator or practitioner of the law of war appreciated these points better than Col. (ret.) W. Hays Parks. Parks, who passed away earlier this year, responded to the issues of his day in a methodical and informed manner, while maintaining a steady eye on the enduring tasks of pursuing humanity and accounting for operational truths. His life’s work reflected both the timeliness and timelessness of law of war analysis.
This post launches a six-part symposium dedicated to the scholarship and operational advice of Hays Parks. Many of the series contributors worked with or learned directly from Parks. We hope the series both memorializes his contributions to the field and revives interest in his astute and influential work.
The symposium will feature posts on the notion of direct participation in hostilities, air war, non-standard uniform wear, weapons law, assassination, and command responsibility. Like Parks himself, each subject finds enduring relevance in our shared field. We hope the symposium serves the soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and guardians responsible for carrying out the law of war as well as Parks did.
Sean Watts is a Professor in the Department of Law at the United States Military Academy, Co-Director of the the Lieber Institute for Law and Land Warfare at West Point, and Co-Editor-in-Chief of Articles of War.
COL Winston Williams is Head of the Department of Law at the United States Military Academy, Co-Director of the the Lieber Institute for Law and Land Warfare at West Point, and Co-Editor-in-Chief of Articles of War.