Episode 13 – Douglas Guilfoyle on the Australian Inquiry into War Crimes in Afghanistan

In this episode, I speak with Douglas Guilfoyle, Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales, Canberra, in Australia. We discuss the recent report of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force on his investigation into war crimes – including murder and cruel treatment of civilians and detainees – alleged to have been committed by members of the Australian Special Forces deployed in Afghanistan. We discuss the impetus for the investigation, the nature of the findings and recommendations, and explore in some detail the report’s treatment of the issue of command responsibility, and its finding that no officers had sufficient knowledge of the misconduct so as to attract criminal liability. This includes a discussion of how the provisions on command responsibility in the Rome Statute were subtly but perhaps significantly adjusted when implemented in the Australian Criminal Code. This leads to the question of what influence the principle of complimentarity and possible ICC involvement may have had in shaping the government’s handling of the issues. Finally we discuss some of the structural, organizational, and cultural features of the Australian forces in Afghanistan that were said to have contributed to the unlawful conduct.

Materials:

“Australian War Crimes in Afghanistan: The Brereton Report,” EJILTalk!, Nov. 23, 2020.

– The Hon. PLG Brereton, Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force Afghanistan Inquiry Report, Oct. 29, 2020.

– Dan Oakes and Sam Clark, “The Afghan Files,” The ABC, Jul. 10, 2017.

Reading Recommendations:

– Monique Cormier, The Jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court over Nationals of Non-State Parties, (2020).

– Jessie Hohmann and Daniel Joyce, eds., International Law’s Objects, (2019).

– Thomas Rid, Active Measures: The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare, (2020).

Episode 11 – Catherine O’Rourke on the Rights of Women in Armed Conflict

In this episode, I speak with Catherine O’Rourke, Senior Lecturer in Human Rights and International Law, and Gender Research Coordinator at the Transitional Justice Institute, at Ulster University School of Law, Northern Ireland. We discuss her very recent book, The Rights of Women in Armed Conflict Under International Law, which examines the manner in which four specific regimes — IHL, international criminal law, human rights law, and the UN Security Council — have interacted in relation to the rights of women in armed conflict, not only in theoretical and doctrinal terms, but also in very practical terms on the ground in the armed conflicts in Colombia, Nepal, and the DRC. There are some surprises in terms of which regimes are strongest, and which institutions most effective, in protecting women’s rights. We discuss both the synergies and the conflicts among the different regimes, assessing how the various regimes fall short in protecting women’s rights, and ultimately, whether the multiplicity of regimes and fragmentation of law is, on balance, a benefit or an obstacle to the protection of women’s rights in armed conflict. Another fascinating discussion that will likely leave listeners clamoring for the book!

Materials:

The Rights of Women in Armed Conflict Under International Law (2020).

– “‘Geneva Convention III Commentary’ What Significance for Women’s Rights?” Just Security, Oct. 21, 2020.

Reading Recommendations:

– Gina Heathcote, Feminist Dialogues on International Law (2019).

– Judith Gardam, “Feminist Interventions into International Law: A Generation On,” 40 Adelaide Law Review 219 (2019).

– Judith Gardam and Michelle Jarvis, Women, Armed Conflict and International Law, (2001).

Episode 2 – Kevin Jon Heller on Unilateral Humanitarian Intervention

In this episode I speak with Kevin Jon Heller, Professor of International Law and Security at the University of Copenhagen (when we spoke, he was still a professor of law at the University of Amsterdam!), and cross-appointed as Professor of Law, Australian National University, College of Law. Our discussion focuses on a recent and soon-to-be published article of Kevin’s, The Illegality of “Genuine” Unilateral Humanitarian Intervention (draft on SSRN posted below). In addition to the more common arguments that  unilateral humanitarian intervention is unlawful and that it should remain so, Kevin also makes the more novel and likely controversial argument that the use of force for purposes of unilateral humanitarian intervention constitutes an act of aggression as defined in the Rome Statute, and that the perpetrators could, theoretically, be charged for the individual crime of aggression.

Materials:

– “The Illegality of ‘Genuine’ Unilateral Humanitarian Intervention,” forthcoming 2020, (draft on SSRN).

Reading Recommendations:

– Francine Hirsch, Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal after World War II (2020).

– Craig Jones, The War Lawyers (2020).

– Moshen al Attar, TWAIL: A Paradox within a Paradox,” 22 Int’l Comm. L.R. 163 (2019).