Legitimacy and lawfulness in armed conflict have always been intertwined in a delicate dance. The recent U.S. and allied strikes in Syria, however, are introducing a dangerous new step.
Laurie R. Blank is a clinical professor of law and director of the International Humanitarian Law Clinic at Emory University School of Law, where she teaches international humanitarian law and works directly with students to provide assistance to international tribunals, non-governmental organizations, and law firms around the world on cutting-edge issues in humanitarian law and human rights.
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Brutality is always a reminder that war is distasteful, but adherence to the law of armed conflict is what determines the legality of weapons, tactics and conduct.
The United Nations Human Rights Council’s Independent Commission of Inquiry has turned the principle of equal application of LOAC on its head in its recently released report on the 2014 conflict in Gaza. Instead of equal application, the unifying thread in the report more accurately appears to be “heads I win, tails you lose.”