Year Ahead – “Waging Peace” in 2024
Lieber Institute Senior Fellows Daphné Richemond-Barak and Laurie Blank’s multi-year End of War Project (see here, here, and here) explores a range of legal, strategic, moral and operational questions at the end of war, including the continuing phenomena of wars petering out due to informal political statements such as tweets about the “end of war” that do not reflect the reality on the ground. Their article, and others who are writing and thinking along these lines, will be very important for the law of armed conflict this year as two major conflicts—the international armed conflict in Ukraine and the non-international armed conflict in Israel—move toward termination.
Meanwhile, Mike Meier’s thoughtful discussion on Israel’s potential “occupation” of Gaza is a validation of the need for States to be more thoughtful about when armed conflict ends. It is difficult to imagine that there will be a formal signing of peace between Israel and Hamas. And given how the war in Ukraine is likely to progress, it is perhaps equally unlikely that there will be a formal peace treaty between Russia and Ukraine to brings those hostilities to a close.
The problematic result of a sparse ius post bellum is the potential “simmering” (as Richemond-Barak and Blank call it) of these armed disputes and the continuing lack of actual conflict termination and return to peace.
This year, borne largely out of necessity, the international community needs to think about how law can facilitate, guide, and regulate “waging peace” in the aftermath of waging war. Areas for focused discussion might include the role of international or transnational military forces as overwatch or supervision, the creation of political “exit strategies” that comply with law of armed conflict principles, the balance between international and domestic criminal allocation of individual responsibility, the reinforcement of the basic requirements of civilian harm mitigation both during and after the close of hostilities, the idea of national and international reparations or other economic influx to rebuild war-torn societies, and many more.
In Ukraine and in Israel—and in too many other places around the world—this year will hopefully bring some more focused thought and discussion of the ius post bellum and how it can become as well-ensconced and as legally effective as the ius ad bellum and ius in bello. Hopefully, the international community will figure out how to “wage peace” as effectively as it has learned to wage war.
Eric Talbot Jensen is a Professor of Law at Brigham Young University.
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