War Crimes

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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 COVID19 pandemic have drawn widespread and deserved praise. There has, however, been significant and growing disquiet regarding reports of war crimes committed in Afghanistan by our special forces. On 19 November General Angus Campbell, Chief of the Australian Defence Force, released the summary of the final report of a long-running inquiry into those accusations. (Press conference transcript here; redacted report here.) That report had been commissioned by the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force, an independent office outside the military chain of command. The press conference was a very sober affair. Much of the report will remain redacted pending criminal proceedings. The key finding being that the report identifies 23 incidents involving 39…

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The First Report of the OPCW’s Investigation and Identification Team on Syria

In April 2020, the Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) formed by the Director General of the Organisation for Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to identify the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic released its First Report (First IIT Report). The IIT was established pursuant to a decision of the Conference…

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Complicity in war crimes through (legal) arms supplies?

  German and other corporations whose arms were used in the war in Yemen have been accused of criminally assisting war crimes. The Berlin-based NGO European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) filed a complaint (a “communication”) to the International Criminal Court (ICC) making this claim with regard to a series of multinational arms companies. But…

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The Soleimani Strike and Self-Defence Against an Imminent Armed Attack

  The US drone strike on Qassem Soleimani, one of the most important members of the Iranian leadership, raises many complex questions of international law. This post will examine the lawfulness of the strike from the standpoint of the law on the use of force. It will first set out the parameters of the US justification…

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Time to fix the Rome Statute and add the crime of starvation in non-international armed conflicts!

This week the Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ASP) meets in The Hague for its 18th session. On the agenda is the Swiss proposal to amend Article 8 (“War crimes”) of the Rome Statute by adding a non-international armed conflict version of the war crime of starvation of…

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