Armed Conflict

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Reviewing Legal Weapons Reviews: is it possible to verify compliance?

Debates about the legal and ethical implications of new weapons are often based on hypotheticals because information about ongoing research and development is scarce. For instance, discussions about the legality of autonomous weapons systems (AWS) and meaningful human control are taking place (e.g. here, here, here, here, and here) while we are still unaware of their battlefield viability. Only States have complete information about each stage of military developments – the spotlight should turn towards their role in preventing the use of illegal means and methods of warfare, in particular, through the implementation of legal weapons reviews. In this post, I argue that the study and development of new weapons may be in breach of international law if States do not make their best efforts to carry out appropriate reviews. To verify this, however, it is necessary to increase the flow of information about reviewing procedures. State discretion: can the study and development of new weapons be in breach of international law? While the…

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Hacking Humanitarians? IHL and the protection of humanitarian organizations against cyber operations

For some years, experts have cautioned that the more humanitarian organizations collect data, the more they ‘are exposed to a growing wave of digital attacks and cyber espionage, and have become highly prized targets’. In late January 2020, the issue made headlines: The New Humanitarian reported a ‘sophisticated’ cyber operation…

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(Not) Investigating Kunduz and (Not) Judging in Strasbourg? Extraterritoriality, Attribution and the Duty to Investigate

  A 2009 airstrike near Kunduz, Afghanistan, that led to more than 100 casualties and was ordered by a German colonel will be the subject of oral arguments in the Grand Chamber (GC) of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in the case of Hanan v. Germany, tomorrow, 26 February 2020. On 4 September…

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Is Security Council Authorisation Really Necessary to Allow Cross-Border Humanitarian Assistance in Syria?

  In December last year, Russia and China vetoed a draft Security Council resolution that would have renewed the authorisation for humanitarian assistance to be provided in Syria via four designated border-crossings. The authorisation had been in place since Resolution 2165 (2014), and had enabled the provision of humanitarian assistance to more than…

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Mistakes of Fact When Using Lethal Force in International Law: Part III

  To briefly recapitulate our examination of mistake of fact when using lethal force in various sub-fields of international law: such a doctrine is, in its purely subjective form, black letter law in international criminal law. It is also established (even if not labelled as such) in international human rights law and (somewhat less clearly) in international humanitarian…

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