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The Afghan War and the Responsibility to Rebuild

1. The fall of Kabul and Joe Biden's speech of 16 August 2021 With the fall of Kabul on August 15, 2021 and US troops hastily withdrawing from Afghanistan, a process still ongoing at the time of writing this contribution (17 August 2021) an intervention and also an experiment lasting almost two decades has come to an end. This endeavor that had been extremely risky and enormous hopes were attached to it. While it must be left to future historians and political analysts to assess this intervention as a whole, the chaotic and heart-wrenching scenes at Kabul airport and the embarrassing and disconcerting responses coming from government palaces all over the world do not bode well for the outcome of this future judgment. Here the legal aspects of the last chapter of the Afghanistan intervention and of the withdrawal shall stand at the center of the attention. While much has been written about the International Law aspects of the intervention in this country, the perception could be that International Law has less to say…

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Extraterritorial Investigations in Hanan v. Germany; Extraterritorial Assassinations in New Interstate Claim Filed by Ukraine against Russia

In this post I will discuss two recent developments on the extraterritoriality of human rights front – the judgment of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in Hanan v. Germany, no. 4871/16, on the compliance with Article 2 ECHR of the investigation by German authorities into the Kunduz incident in Afghanistan,…

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Command responsibility for Australian war crimes in Afghanistan

Introduction On 4 January 2021 the Australian Office of the Special Investigator officially commenced work (“OSI”). Its task is to conduct criminal investigations into Australian war crimes in Afghanistan, as revealed in the Brereton Report (discussed here). The report focusses on the killing of persons hors de combat or under Australian control by…

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Australian war crimes in Afghanistan: The Brereton Report

On Thursday 19 November Australia faced a reckoning with its recent past in Afghanistan.* Australian political culture approaches our armed forces with a great degree of deference and respect. Three of our last four Governors General have been, for example, senior military leaders. The Australian Defence Force support operations in respect of the January 2020 bushfires and the…

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The Situation in Afghanistan, US Sanctions and the Historical Narratives Emerging from the ICC

On 11 June 2020, the US announced a series of economic and travel sanctions against any officials of the ICC involved in an investigation into whether US forces committed war crimes related to the Afghan conflict (see here). The ICC Appeals Chamber had previously authorised the ICC Prosecutor to commence such an investigation (see…

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