operational law

2016 July

The International Law of Military Operations Conference

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On 21-23 June 2016, the International Society for Military Law and the Law of War (ISMLLW) and Exeter Law School convened an international conference in Exeter, United Kingdom, entitled ‘The International Law of Military Operations: Mapping the Field’. The conference brought together more than 130 legal experts from academia and the armed forces to map the current state of operational law from a comparative and practical perspective and to explore some of the most pressing legal challenges facing the conduct of military operations.

2015 October

Lawfare post on ‘Legal Aspects of Hybrid Warfare’

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I recently had the pleasure and privilege of convening a workshop on the legal aspects of hybrid warfare and influence operations at the Strategy and Security Institute of the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom. Held in collaboration with the NATO Office of Legal Affairs (many thanks to NATO Legal Adviser Steven Hill) and the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, the event brought together senior legal advisors and experts working in a national and international capacity over the course of one and a half days. The workshop was held under the Chatham House Rule. While this prevents me from describing the proceedings and participants in greater detail, I have written up my thoughts on the subject, shaped in part by the discussions we had at Exeter, in a blog post published at Lawfare.

2015 August

The Authority to Detain in NIACs Revisited: Serdar Mohammed in the Court of Appeal

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As the English Court of Appeal breaks for the summer vacation, scores of international lawyers are about to descend on one of its latest decisions: Mohammed v Secretary of State for Defence; Rahmatullah and Ors v MoD and FCO [2015] EWCA Civ 843. In this 109-page long judgment, the Court upholds the conclusion reached at first instance by Leggatt J that British armed forces participating in ISAF lacked the legal authority under international law to detain suspected insurgents captured in Afghanistan.The implications of Serdar Mohammed are considerable. The case raises difficult questions about the place the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) occupies in the international legal order and, more broadly, about the relationship between international human rights law and international humanitarian law (IHL). Those who have followed this debate will recall that we were not convinced by Leggatt J’s reasoning on these points (see here, here and here). In so far as it upholds his main conclusions, we also find ourselves in disagreement with the judgment now delivered by the Court of Appeal. Rather than rehearsing our arguments on the underlying issues in full (see in detail here), in this post we would like to briefly comment on those aspects of the Court’s decision which, in our view, take the debate forward and those which do not.

2015 July

Human Rights and Military Operations: Confronting the Challenges

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Noëlle Quénivet (UWE Bris­tol) and myself have just published SSI Occasional Paper No 2, entitled ‘Human Rights and Military Operations: Confronting the Challenges’. The paper summarizes the findings of a workshop held in February 2015 as part of a British Academy-funded research project we are conducting on the impact of international human rights law on the British armed forces.

2015 June

Untangling Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction from International Responsibility in Jaloud v. Netherlands

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In this article, I argue that the European Court has taken one step forward in the Jaloud case by introducing the notion of full command into the debate on extra-territorial jurisdiction, but two steps back by sowing unnecessary confusion with regard to the applicable rules of attribution.

2015 April

Barking up the Wrong Tree: How Not to Save the British Armed Forces from Legal Defeat

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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. There is little doubt that the British armed forces are facing significant legal challenges. These must be addressed as a matter of priority. However, neither the fiery tone of the Policy Exchange's latest report nor its actual policy recommendations are best suited to preserve the operational freedom of the military. In this post, we seek to explain why this is so.

2014 November

Jaloud v Netherlands: New Directions in Extra-Territorial Military Operations

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Jaloud v Netherlands is the latest in a growing line of Strasbourg cases addressing the application of the Convention to extra-territorial military operations. In this post, I discuss the jurisdictional aspects of the case. Two points merit attention: the Court’s reasons for finding that the jurisdiction of the Netherlands was not excluded and the new category of extra-territorial jurisdiction over ‘persons passing through a checkpoint’.