International Humanitarian Law

Latest in International Humanitarian Law


Is Limiting the Gaza Fishing Zone Collective Punishment?

Escalations in the armed conflict between Israel, Hamas and other armed groups in the Gaza Strip tend to follow a familiar pattern. Often, following the shooting of rockets or the launching of incendiary balloons from Gaza to Israel, the Israeli government will constrain the space available for fishing next to Gaza’s shores. When matters become calmer, the fishing zone is extended.

Foreign Policy Essay

Can International Humanitarian Law Restrain Armed Groups? Lessons from NGO Work on Anti-Personnel Landmines

Editor’s Note: The laws of war are written by and for states, but we want fighters in civil wars to treat civilians well, not use unconventional weapons, respect cultural heritage sites, and otherwise fight in a civilized way. But will fighting groups play by the rules?


A Question of Time: Israel’s State Comptroller Finds Flaws in the IDF’s ‘Protective Edge’ Investigations

In July 2014, a deadly series of events began when Hamas operatives kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. After waves of arrests of Hamas leaders by Israeli security agencies in response and Hamas’s subsequent launching of 40 rockets from Gaza into Israel, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) began Operation Protective Edge: an air campaign that soon expanded into a limited ground invasion of Gaza primarily aimed at locating and destroying cross-border “terror tunnels”designed by Hamas.

International Law

The Al-Mayadeen Prison Bombing and the Problem of War-Sustaining Targets

The New York Times reported on June 27 that an airstrike in eastern Syria destroyed a building that the Islamic State used as a prison for captured fighters. Observers indicate that the attack was likely part of the U.S.-led coalition forces’ larger bombing campaign in the region. Initial reports estimate that over 60 people perished, including 42 non-combatant prisoners and 15 Islamic State prison guards.


A Critical Analysis of the Report of the UN Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry into the 2014 Gaza Conflict

Despite the many tumultuous events that have transpired in both the Middle East and the rest of the world since 2014, the conflict that erupted during that summer between Israel and Palestinian armed groups, particularly fighting involving Hamas in Gaza, continues to have importance with respect to the politics of the region, as well as the law and policy in the conduct of armed operations by all sides.

International Law

EU Counterterrorism Sanctions and IHL: A v. Minister van Buitenlandse Zaken

Can the acts of armed forces in the framework of an armed conflict governed by International Humanitarian Law constitute terrorist acts? According to a new judgment of the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) the answer is yes, at least for the purposes of the EU counterterrorism sanctions regime.

International Governance

Iran’s Photographs of Navy Sailors: A War Crime (Or “Just” An Outrage?)

There’s an interesting IHL angle to Iran’s seizure and subsequent release of ten American sailors in the Persian Gulf: As several observers have already noted, publishing photographs and videos of the sailors may implicate Article 13 of the Third Geneva Convention, which provides that “prisoners of war must at all times be protected … against insults and public curiosity.”

International Law

Attacks on Medical Facilities in Yemen: Should Medical Humanitarians Stay?

Imagine you are the head of an international medical humanitarian organization with extensive operations in Yemen. Your organization provides life-saving care to civilians and wounded fighters hors de combat alike. There is no doubt that there is tremendous need for medical assistance. But there have also been numerous attacks on civilians and medical establishments in the region. Would you increase, maintain, or decrease your operations there? What role should the disposition of the parties to the conflict toward IHL play in your decision?

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