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Category Archives: Jus ad Bellum/UN Charter/Sovereignty

Drone Strike Errors and the Hostage Tragedy: Mapping the Issues in the Newly-Catalyzed Debate?

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Friday, April 24, 2015 at 2:57 PM

The use of lethal force (whether via armed drone, manned aircraft, cruise missile, helicopter assault, etc.) has been a cornerstone of U.S. counterterrorism policy for many years, both in places where we have ground combat deployments and places where we do not. Throughout this period, the legality, efficacy, wisdom, and morality of this practice has . . .
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Barking up the Wrong Tree: How Not to Save the British Armed Forces from Legal Defeat

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015 at 2:00 PM

Judicial imperialism is defeating the British armed forces. At least this is what the authors of a report recently published by the Policy Exchange—an influential British think tank—claim. Provocatively entitled Clearing the Fog of Law: Saving our Armed Forces from Defeat by Judicial Diktat, the report argues that the judicial extension of peacetime legal standards . . .
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U.S. Support for the Saudi Air Campaign in Yemen: The Legal Issues

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 3:02 PM

For the past couple of weeks, a Saudi-led coalition has been engaged in a substantial air campaign against Houthi forces in Yemen. The United States is not conducting its own air strikes against the Houthis, but it is providing various forms of material and intelligence support to the coalition, including armaments, air-to-air refueling services, satellite . . .
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International Legal Justification for the Yemen Intervention: Blink and Miss It

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Monday, March 30, 2015 at 12:31 PM

There has been surprisingly little discussion about the international legal justification for the airstrikes in Yemen that are being led by the Saudis. Other than a Just Security post that tackles some of the legal issues, the media and those using force have spent almost no time discussing whether the Saudi-led coalition’s intervention raises legal . . .
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Is Jordan Attacking ISIS on a New Legal Theory?

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Saturday, February 7, 2015 at 4:00 PM

In the past few days, in the wake of ISIS’s horrific burning of a Jordanian air force pilot, Jordan has adopted a highly combative tone toward the group.  It has matched this rhetoric with action: Its air force carried out dozens of strikes against ISIS targets on Thursday.  This is a significant increase from the number and pace . . .
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The Sony Hack: Will the United States Take Countermeasures Against North Korea?

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Friday, December 19, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Now that the United States has concluded that North Korea was responsible for the hack into Sony’s computers, it has begun to make noises about responding to that hack in some way. If the United States wants to make its response consistent with international law, how should it think about how to proceed? Mike Schmitt posted an . . .
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Findings, Conclusions and Areas of Dispute Between the SSCI Report, the Minority, and the CIA: Part Five

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Friday, December 12, 2014 at 9:36 PM

Here is the fifth and final installment in our running, side-by-side comparison of the twenty findings and conclusions of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s Study on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program—along  with responses by the Committee Minority and the CIA. Summaries of Study findings seventeen through twenty can be found below.  By way of reminder, . . .
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The UK’s Article 51 Letter on Use of Force in Syria

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Friday, December 12, 2014 at 9:53 AM

Several weeks ago, the United Kingdom submitted an Article 51 letter to the Security Council providing notice that the UK was taking measures against ISIS “in support of the collective self-defence of Iraq as part of international efforts led by the United States.”  The letter further stated that the UK “fully supports these international efforts, . . .
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A “Buffer Zone” Inside Syria, and Its Complications

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Friday, December 5, 2014 at 6:34 PM

The United States and Turkey seem to be having increasingly detailed discussions about establishing a no-fly zone (or “buffer zone”) inside the northern Syrian border adjacent to Turkey. The press reports that Turkey is conditioning the U.S. use of Turkey’s Incirlik air base for armed flights on the U.S. willingness to establish such a zone. The . . .
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Strikes in Syria: The International Law Framework

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 2:25 AM

[Cross-posted at Just Security] As is now well-known, the United States last night hit approximately 25 targets inside Syria, some of which were directed at ISIL, and some at a group that has only recently been brought to the public’s attention – the Khorasan Group, which is reportedly comprised of al Qaeda militants and led by senior al Qaeda officials . . .
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Narrowing Down the U.S. International Legal Theory for ISIS Strikes in Syria

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Friday, September 12, 2014 at 10:08 AM

In late August, I suggested several possible theories the Administration might invoke to argue that the use of force against ISIS in Syria is consistent with international law. In the wake of President Obama’s speech on Wednesday night and supplemental Administration statements, do we know anything more about which theory or theories the Administration has picked? . . .
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U.S. Airstrikes Against ISIS in Syria? Possible International Legal Theories

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Saturday, August 23, 2014 at 3:04 PM

In the wake of Thursday’s statements by Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey and Friday’s comments by Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, it sounds like the U.S. Government is at least considering whether to conduct air strikes against ISIS in Syria. A decision to do so clearly is not a done deal. As the Times . . .
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Air Strikes or Supply Drops in Iraq?

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Thursday, August 7, 2014 at 12:30 PM

The New York Times reports:  WASHINGTON — President Obama is considering airstrikes or airdrops of food and medicine to address a humanitarian crisis among as many as 40,000 religious minorities in Iraq who have been dying of heat and thirst on a mountaintop after death threats from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, administration officials said . . .
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Report of the Stimson Center Task Force on Drone Policy

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Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 3:27 PM

The Stimson Center released today the report of its Task Force on US Drone Policy.  The ten-member task force, of which I was a member, was chaired by General John Abizaid and Rosa Brooks.   The report makes eight recommendations for overhauling US drone strategy; improving oversight, accountability, transparency and clarifying the international legal framework applicable . . .
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A Call for Article 51 Letters

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 6:30 PM

In past week, Kenya has conducted air strikes in Somalia against al Shabaab. Israel has undertaken airstrikes in Syria against Syrian military targets in response to a cross-border attack that killed an Israeli teenager.  And the Syrian air force reportedly has carried out air strikes in western Iraq against ISIS.  Each of these actions seems to have been . . .
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Rescuing the Kidnapped Turks in Iraq

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Sunday, June 15, 2014 at 2:00 PM

The question on everyone’s lips is whether the United States will use force – most likely air strikes — in Iraq to help suppress the threat posed by ISIS.  Jack, Wells, and Bobby discussed here, here, and here the domestic legal basis for that use of force. The international legal basis almost certainly would be . . .
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Readings: Can Non-State Actors Mount an Armed Attack? by Kimberly N. Trapp

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014 at 3:29 PM

Among the issues separating the American understanding of international law regarding transnational non-state actor armed groups from that of the “international community” (or at least an influential and significant part of UN officialdom, international law academics, international tribunals, international human rights NGOs, and governments particularly in Europe) is whether it is even possible for a . . .
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More Willing, More Able – But No Time Soon

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Sunday, June 1, 2014 at 1:00 PM

One new policy proposal contained in the President’s West Point speech from Wednesday was a Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund, which would facilitate counterterrorism training for U.S. partner countries where terrorist groups seek footholds. But as Eric Schmitt at the Times notes, the U.S. government for years has been pursuing the strategy of helping to train up foreign . . .
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Targeting Non-Al Qaeda Members in Yemen (?): The Role of Consent

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Thursday, May 15, 2014 at 4:30 PM

The other day both Bobby here and Ryan Goodman at Just Security here picked up on news reports that DOD may be willing to provide additional military cooperation (including logistics and direct fire capabilities) to the Yemeni government. Ryan then takes the opportunity to ask: what type of force is the U.S. government undertaking in Yemen already? . . .
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The Precedential Value of the Kosovo Non-Precedent Precedent for Crimea

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Monday, March 17, 2014 at 10:00 AM

When the Obama administration invoked the 1999 Kosovo intervention as a precedent in the run-up to the planned Syria invasion, I wrote a post that argued that Kosovo was not a precedent for lawful international action.  The Kosovo intervention violated the U.N. Charter, but the West was less concerned with that fact than with limiting the intervention’s . . .
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