International Law

Transatlantic Dialogue on IHL and IHRL

By Robert Chesney
Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 4:58 PM

Hot on the heels of the transatlantic dialogue event in Germany on surveillance law and policy, about which Russ has a fascinating post here, I'm happy to report that there is a similar event taking place at Oxford this week concerning the interplay of IHL and IHRL.  The event (now in its second year) is co-sponsored by the ICRC's DC and London delegations, the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law, and Armed Conflict, the Oxford Martin Programme on Human Rights for Future Generations, South Texas College of Law (through the good offices of my friend Geoff Corn), and the Strauss Center at UT (which I direct).  It's going to be an amazing event, though alas it is not open to the public and won't be recorded (last year we did it under Chatham House rules, and may be doing so again).  At any rate, I thought readers would at least be interested in seeing the topics that will be debated and discussed.  They are:

Updates in the overlap between IHL and IHRL

What have the major updates in the interplay between IHL and International Human Rights Law (IHRL) been over the past year? Has IHRL gone too far into influencing IHL? What are the effects of this interplay?

 Accountability for violations of IHL

This session will address the issues of transparency, accountability, and investigations into violations of IHL. What obligations exist, and are they sufficient? How does IHRL affect this issue and should it in the first place? Are the obligations sufficient? What domestic or international legal precedents exist for holding States or individuals accountable in the recent conflict in Afghanistan, for example?

Partnered operations and security cooperation: examining hypothetical situations

States are scaling down their direct foreign military interventions and are increasingly providing support to foreign States through security cooperation. The most obvious forms of cooperation are military training and weapons transfers, but States cooperate in many other ways, including intelligence, logistics arrangements and “proxy” detention. Additionally, States undertake capture operations, as well as targeting, sometimes without the consent of the sovereign on whose territory they operate. Under Common Article 1 of the Geneva Conventions, States have an obligation to “ensure respect” of the Conventions. Given that, what is the responsibility of States for ensuring their partners respect IHL? Is there an obligation to prevent violations or stop on-going violations? Is there an obligation for ensuring violations are investigated and perpetrators held accountable? This session will center on specific hypothetical situations that illustrate the debate.

Military operations beyond the traditional battlefield

With the extension of military operations beyond the traditional battlefield, questions about the legality of the use of force have emerged. The issue is particularly relevant when armed forces are asked to operate in contexts traditionally left to law enforcement and in counterterrorism operations. How much force can the military use when acting domestically to suppress riots or community violence? Should counterterrorism operations, including drone strikes, be conducted as law enforcement operations or under an armed conflict model? Why does it matter?

Regulating NIAC through extension of IAC norms: Origins, pragmatics, and limits to this concept

Substantial thought has been put into applying International Armed Conflict (IAC) standards to Non-International Armed Conflicts (NIACs) with a varying degrees of success. Where did this idea come from? How feasible is it? Are some norms more difficult to impose, and why?

Law at the end of conflict

At what point does armed conflict, particularly a NIAC, end? What are the criteria used to determine the end of a NIAC? Are the Tadic factors still the most useful factors to examine, or do they prolong an armed conflict? Not only is it essential to determine the end of an armed conflict to understand when IHL no longer applies, but also because of its implication, in particular, on the situation of people who are being detained in relation to the armed conflict and missing persons. After conflict has ended, how do IHL and IHRL come into play regarding detainees, missing persons, accountability, and other issues at hand?