Armed Conflict

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No peace for the dead: legal questions about Israel’s destruction of cemeteries in Gaza

In Gaza not even the dead are at peace. In mid-December the New York Times and the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor first reported that Israel had destroyed several cemeteries in Gaza, bulldozing graves, scattering human remains, and even exhuming bodies, some of which were subsequently taken to Israel. Last week, CNN filed a report documenting the destruction of sixteen cemeteries by the IDF in Gaza, indicating, if not a systematic practice, then at least a pattern of involving cemeteries in hostilities. This pattern raises two legal questions. First, under what circumstances is attacking or destroying cemeteries prohibited? Second, what are the legal protections afforded to human remains? Can removing them to Israel ever be legal? I will address these questions, arguing that, while it is unlikely that this conduct is legal in all cases, and not unlikely to be criminal in some, the destruction of cemeteries and removal of human remains raises some questions without easy answers. International law will have to grapple with these questions if…

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Protecting commercial shipping with strikes into Yemen: Do attacks against merchant shipping trigger the right of self-defence?

On January 11, 2024, the US and UK, supported by a group of other States, commenced attacks against targets in Yemen. These attacks were preceded by a range of efforts to secure the sea lines of communication through the Red Sea against continued attacks by the Houthis from Yemen territory. A maritime coalition taskforce was set up…

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The Mariupol Test: Analysing the Briefs of Third States Intervening in Ukraine and the Netherlands v. Russia

The interstate case of Ukraine and the Netherlands v. Russia is currently pending on its merits before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights. It is one of the most complex and politically momentous cases ever to be heard by the Court. Russia is no longer participating in the proceedings, and will not comply with…

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Nothing is certain but death and taxes (unless you get hacked): An international law perspective on Ukraine’s cyber attack against Russia’s Federal Tax Service

Talk about bad timing. This week, all international lawyers with a little more than passing interest in all things cyber have their eyes on – or are themselves in – New York. That’s because the UN “Cyber OEWG”, a shorthand for an open-ended working group with a much longer name, is in session to discuss,…

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The Obligation to Ensure Respect: A Role for All States to Play in Palestine

Introduction International humanitarian law (IHL) does not only oblige States who are directly engaged in an armed conflict to fulfil their obligation to respect its rules and principles during the conduct of hostilities and take measures to stop violations. IHL also places an obligation on all State Members to the Geneva Conventions to ensure respect and…

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