Direct Participation in Hostilities

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The Taliban’s New “Code of Conduct”, Compliance with the Laws of War and POW status

After an absence of a couple of weeks and a summer silence on this blog, we are back.  I've got a bit of catching up to do. I want to spend the next couple of days discussing some legal issues arising from recent media reports about the war in Afghanistan. Later this week, I will write about US targetting of drug traffickers in Afghanistan with links to the Taliban. Today I wish to address reports (see here, here and here) indicating that Taliban's leaders have issued a handbook containing a code of conduct for its fighters. In particular, I am interested in how this issuance of such a "code of conduct" may affect the determination of prisoner of war status in international armed conflicts. According to FoxNews: The handbook - written in Pashto and obtained through U.S. military sources - is entitled "Afghanistan Islamic Emirate Rules and Regulations," and it is addressed to the "Mujahideen Pashto," or Taliban commanders. Written on May 9 in Kandahar, the birthplace of…

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Clearing the Fog of War? The ICRC’s Interpretive Guidance on Direct Participation in Hostilities

On Tuesday (June 2), the ICRC published a document setting out its "Interpretive Guidance on the Notion of Direct Participation in Hostilities under International Humanitarian Law."  The purpose of the document is to help clarify and to assist in the interpretation of a principle which is well accepted in international humanitarian law (IHL) but subject to much ambiguity. This is…

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ICRC on Direct Participation in Hostilities

The ICRC has just published its interpretative guidance on the notion of direct participation in hostilities. This is a product of many years’ work and several consultations with eminent experts – though of course many experts would not agree on all of the ICRC’s conclusions, which are purely the organization’s own. At any rate, since this is one…

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Who is a Civilian? A Follow up on the Status of Hamas Police Officers

At the end of 2008, I put up a post in which I suggested that a key issue in assessing the lawfulness of Israeli airstrikes in Gaza was determning the status of Hama police officers. Before attempting to make the proportionality calculation International Humanitarian Law (IHL) requires, one has to first answer the question who is a civilian and…

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A Follow-Up on Israel and Gaza

I just wanted to add a few thoughts after Dapo’s excellent post on the Gaza conflict, of which there seems to be no end in sight. First, a word of warning. As Dapo pointed out, talking about these matters without knowing all the facts is truly dangerous. Indeed, it only tends to expose the speaker’s political and ideological…

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