Episode 34 – Chris O’Meara on Necessity and Proportionality

In this episode I speak Chris O’Meara, Lecturer at Exeter University Law School, about his new book, Necessity and Proportionality and the Right of Self-Defence in International Law. Chris describes his novel taxonomy for dividing the principle of necessity between general and specific necessity, and his blending the quantitative and teleological approaches to the principle of proportionality, and goes on to explain how the relationship among necessity, proportionality, and imminence should be properly understood. We delve into some of the more potentially controversial claims he makes, such as: on how he thinks necessity operates as a limiting principle; why the gravity threshold for armed attack should be lowered; whether the principles of self-defence are modified in responses to non-state actors; why the assertions and actions of a minority of powerful states, particularly in relation to clearly unlawful uses of force, and the corresponding silence of other states, should be considered so heavily in thinking about custom – and so much more! A fascinating conversation.

Materials:

Necessity and Proportionality and the Right of Self-Defence in International Law (2021).

– “The Relationship Between National, Unit and Personal Self-Defence in International Law: Bridging the Disconnect,” 4 Journal on the Use of Force and International Law 273 (2017).

– “Reconceptualizing the Right of Self-Defence Against Imminent Armed Attacks,” 9 Journal on the Use of Force and International Law 278 (2022).

Recommended Reading:

– Craig Forcese, Destroying the Caroline: The Frontier Raid that Reshaped the Right to War (2018);

– Tom Ruys et al., The Use of Force in International Law: A Case-Based Approach (2018);

– Jay Kristoff, Nevernight (2016).

Episode 33 – René Provost on Rebel Courts

In this episode I speak with René Provost, professor of law at McGill University Faculty of Law in Montreal. We talk about his recent and widely acclaimed book, Rebel Courts: The Administration of Justice by Armed Insurgents. We discuss the methodology he employed in researching this deep and rich ethnography of rebel courts, in conflicts ranging from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, to Sri Lanka, Colombia, and the DRC, and some of the significant challenges and risks that such research entailed. From there we dive into how he assesses the legality and validity of the administration of justice by armed groups, and how the very idea of rebel courts challenges many state-centered conceptions of law and justice and the rule of law, which in turn takes us into an exploration of legal pluralism and meaning of the rule of law itself. We also delve into a number interpretive issues surrounding the meaning of “regularly constituted courts” in IHL, and the paradox of states requiring armed groups to comply with and implement IHL while rejecting their attempts to administer justice in the process. All in all, it is a fascinating discussion that ranges from legal anthropology and legal theory to certain technical aspects of IHL and human rights law.

Materials:

Rebel Courts: The Administration of Justice by Armed Insurgents.

Recommended Reading:

– Stuart Elden, The Birth of Territory (2013);

– Martti Koskeneimmi, The Gentle Civilizer of Nations: The Rise and Fall of International Law 1870-1960 (2001);

– Sarah M.H. Nouwen, Complimentarity in the Line of Fire: The Catalyzing Effect of the International Criminal Court in Uganda and Sudan (2013).

Episode 32 – Boyd van Dijk on the Making of the Geneva Conventions

In this episode I speak with Boyd van Dijk, currently a McKenzie Fellow at the University of Melbourne, and formerly a fellow at the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law and the University of Cambridge. We talk about his new book, Preparing for War: The Making of the Geneva Conventions, which is a detailed history of the years-long process of negotiations that resulted in the treaties of 1949. We discuss some of the myths surrounding the history of the conventions, as well as the tensions and conflicts not just between parties to the negotiations, but also within the delegations and among different departments of each of the parties, caused by conflicting interests, values, and paradoxes within their positions. We dig into the weeds of some of the different aspects of the negotiations, and discuss why this history should matter to how we think about and understand the operation of the conventions today. A fascinating conversation that only scratches the surface of his book!

Materials:

Preparing for War: The Making of the Geneva Conventions (2022).

Reading Recommendations:

– Giovanni Mantilla, Lawmaking Under Pressure: International Humanitarian Law and Internal Armed Conflict (2020);

– Nicholas Mulder, The Economic Weapon: The Rise of Sanctions as a Weapon of Modern War (2022);

– Jessica Whyte, “The ‘Dangerous Concept of the Just War’: Decolonization, Wars of National Liberation, and the Additional Protocols of the Geneva Conventions,” Humanity, Jan. 2019.

 

Episode 31 – Leila Sadat on Crimes Against Humanity

A conversation with Leila Sadat, a professor of law at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, the United States, and Special Advisor on Crimes Against Humanity to the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. We discuss Leila’s decade long work as part of effort to establish an international convention for the prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity, and why such a convention is important, notwithstanding that crimes against humanity are addressed in the Rome Statute. This leads us into an examination of the role of the ICC in prosecuting crimes against humanity, the relationship between crimes against humanity and genocide, the ILC’s work on developing a draft convention, the current status of the effort to establish the convention, and the significance of the U.N. Sixth Committee to the process. A wide ranging and fascinating discussion!

Materials:

– “Little Progress in the Sixth Committee on Crimes Against Humanity,” 54 Case Western Reserve Journal of  International Law 89  (2022);

– “Towards a New Treaty on Crimes Against Humanity: Next Steps,” Just Security, Sept. 13, 2021;

Forging a Convention on Crimes Against Humanity (Leila Sadat, ed., 2013);

ILC Draft Articles on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity (2019).

Reading Recommendations:

– Oona Hathaway and Scott Shapiro, The Internationalists: How a Radical Plan to Outlaw War Remade the World (2017);

– Philippe Sands, East West Street: On the Origins of “Genocide” and “Crimes Against Humanity” (2016);

– Carol Anderson, The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America (2021).

Episode 29 – David Sloss on Defending Democracies Against Information Warfare

In this episode I speak with David Sloss, a professor of law at Santa Clara University School of Law, about his new book Tyrants on Twitter: Protecting Democracies from Chinese and Russian Information Warfare. David argues that autocracies such as China and Russia are exploiting social media to engage in “warfare by other means” to undermine democracies around the world, and that there are strategic and geopolitical implications to allowing autocracies to conduct this kind of information warfare. We discuss how this form of information warfare calls for different law and policy responses than cyber operations, or other forms of interference in the electoral processes or domestic politics of nations, and why in his view the best response is a coordinated transnational regulatory system agreed to by like-minded democracies, which would include the banning of Russian and Chinese state agents from social media platforms. We explore several of the likely objections to his proposal, including its implicit rejection of broader and more universal international law solutions, whether it distracts from several larger threats to democracy posed by social media platforms, the risk of securitizing an essentially non-military problem, and some of the more technical challenges to its implementation. We only scratch the surface of everything the book has to offer, but it provides a lot of food for thought!

Materials:

Tyrants on Twitter: Protecting Democracies from Chinese and Russian Information Warfare (2022).

Reading Recommendations:

– Yochai Benkler et al., Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics (2018);

– Laura Rosenberger, “Making Cyberspace Safe for Democracies,” Foreign Affairs, May/June, 2020.

– Aleksi Knuutila et al., “Global Fears of Disinformation: Perceived Internet and Social Media Harms in 142 Countries,” Oxford Internet Institute (2020).

The Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem).

Episode 28 – The War in Ukraine: Jus ad Bellum Implications

 

 

 

 

 

In this special episode, I discuss aspects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine with Professors Eliav Lieblich of Tel Aviv University Faculty of Law, Marko Milanovic of the University of Nottingham School of Law, and Ingrid Wuerth of Vanderbilt University School of Law. The focus of our discussion is how we should be thinking about what this war means for the jus ad bellum regime and the collective security system. While the invasion is clearly an unlawful and egregious act of aggression, have unlawful uses of force by Western states served to weaken the system in a way that is in any way relevant to the current conflict? Has the focus on humanitarian issues, and human rights law more generally, somehow similarly weakened the system? Should this war be understood as a failure of the collective security system? Is there a risk that the wrong lessons may be drawn from the conflict, particularly in the area of nuclear non-proliferation? And, perhaps most importantly, how should we begin to think about restoring or even reforming both the jus ad bellum regime and the collective security system more broadly? A fascinating discussion about hugely important issues.

Materials:

– Marko Milanovic, “What is Russia’s Legal Justification for Using Force in Ukraine,” EJILTalk!, Feb. 24, 2022.

– Ingrid Wuerth, “International Law and the Russian Invasion of Ukraine,” Lawfare, Feb. 25, 2022.

– Eliav Lieblich, “Not Far Enough: The European Court of Human Rights Interim Measures on Ukraine,” Just Security, Mar. 7, 2022.

– Monica Hakimi, Twitter thread exploring legal distinctions between Western violations of Art. 2(4) from the current Russian act of aggression.

Recommended Reading:

– Nicholas Mulder, The Economic Weapon: The Rise of Sanctions as a Tool of War (2022).

– International law blogs: EJILTalk!, Opinio Juris, Just Security, Lawfare, Armed Groups and International Law.

– Ruys, Tom, et al., The Use of Force in International Law: A Case-Based Approach (2018).

Episode 27 – Samuel Moyn on the Humanizing of War

In this episode I speak with Samuel Moyn, who is a Professor of Jurisprudence at Yale Law School and Professor of History at Yale University. Sam has written a number of books on issues at the intersection of history and international human rights, but we here discuss his most recent book, Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War. Taking off from an insight of Leo Tolstoy’s, the book provocatively explores how an increasing focus on the humanization of war may have made us more accepting of armed conflict, and thereby undermined the movement to constrain the resort to war. In our discussion we explore some of the historical accounts that form the premises of this argument, including the claim that IHL did little to make war more humane until after the Vietnam war, particularly in the history of Western conflicts with non-white peoples; how armed conflict become far more humanized in the so-called “global war on terror;” and how this increasing focus on humanizing war has resulted in a corresponding decline in efforts to constrain the resort to war. We dig into the nature and implications of this claimed inverse relationship, and what forces and actors he thinks help to explain the phenomenon, and end with the question of what might might be done, and by whom, to address the problem of this declining focus on preventing war – an urgent question in the circumstances.

Materials:

Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021).

Reading Recommendations:

– Amanda Alexander, “A Short History of International Humanitarian Law,” 26 European Journal of International Law 109 (2015).

– Boyd van Dijk, Preparing for War: The Making of the Geneva Conventions (Oxford Univ. Press, 2022).

– Giovanni Mantilla, Lawmaking Under Pressure: International Humanitarian Law and Internal Armed Conflict (Cornell Univ. Press, 2020).

Season 3: Episode 26 – Olivier Corten on The Law Against War

In this first episode of Season 3 of the podcast, I speak with Olivier Corten, Professor of International Law at the Center for International Law, Free University of Brussels, in Belgium. Olivier specializes in both the international law on the use of force, and international law theory, and was the Director of the Center for International Law at Free University of Brussels until 2019. In our conversation we discuss the 2nd edition of his book The Law Against War, which was published in late 2021 (the first edition was published in 2010). We begin with his analysis of the differing methodological approaches – what he calls the restrictive and the expansive approach – to international law on the use of force. From there, our conversation moves on to explore the substantive content of the book, beginning with the threshold for what constitutes a use of force, and moving through the scope and operation of the doctrine of self-defense, including the proper understanding of the role played by the principle of necessity, the validity of any and all conceptions of anticipatory self-defense, the use of force by invitation, and whether and how the law on the use of force applies to actions against non-state actors, and to cyber operations. We end where we started, discussing the problem posed by the very different theoretical and methodological approaches to an understanding of the jus contra bellum, and how one might think about bridging the divide.

Materials:

The Law Against War, 2nd ed. (Hart Publishing, 2021).

Recommended Reading:

– Paulina Starski, “Silence within the Process of Normative Change and the Evolution of the Prohibition on the Use of Force: Normative Volatility and Legislative Responsibility,” 4 Journal on the Use of Force and International Law 14 (2017).

– Victor Kattan, “Furthering the ‘War on Terrorism’ Through International Law: How the United States and the United Kingdom Resurrected the Bush Doctrine on Using Preventative Military Force to Combat Terrorism,” 5 Journal on the Use of Force and International Law 97 (2018).

– Agatha Verdebout, Rewriting Histories of the Use of Force: The Narrative of ‘Indifference,’ (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2021).

Episode 25 – Aslı Bâli on Economic Sanctions and the Laws of War

In the last episode of Season 2, I speak with Aslı Bâli, Professor of Law at UCLA in the United States, and Co-Director of the Middle East Division of Human Rights Watch, among other things. She specializes in both international law as it relates to armed conflict and human rights, and on comparative constitutional law with a focus on the Middle East. We discuss the lawfulness of comprehensive autonomous economic sanctions, and the relationship they may have with the various regimes that govern the use of force and armed conflict. Economic sanctions are often viewed as a legitimate and effective alternative to the use of force in international relations. Yet comprehensive sanctions can and do cause the kind of humanitarian harm and economic disruption that in other circumstances could be unlawful under IHL, or constitute a use of force if caused by cyber operations or even naval blockade, and they are potentially in violation of human rights law. So aside from the ethical and strategic questions that they pose, economic sanctions raise legal issues, including issues at the intersection with the laws of war—which we explore in a fascinating conversation!

Materials:

– “Sanctions are Inhumane – Now , and Always,” The Boston Review, Mar. 26, 2020.

– Dapo Akande, Payam Akhavan, and Eirik Bjorge, “Economic Sanctions, International Law, and Crimes Against Humanity: Venezuela’s Referral to the International Criminal Court,American Journal of International Law, Apr. 29, 2021.

Recommended Reading:

– Joy Gordon, Invisible War: The United States and the Iraq Sanctions (2010).

– Alex de Waal, Mass Starvation: The History and Future of Famine (2018).

– Nicholas Mulder and Boyd van Dijk, “Why Did Starvation Not Become the Paradigmatic War Crime in International Law?” in Ingo Venzke and Kevin Jon Heller eds., Contingency in International Law (2021).

– Tom Dannenbaum, “Encirclement, Deprivation, and Humanity: Revising the San Remo Manual Provisions on Blockade,” 97 International Law Studies 307 (2021).

Episode 24 – Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji on the ICC, the Concept of “Attack,” and More

In this episode, I speak with Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji, Judge and President of the ICC until he stepped down earlier this year. He served as Judge on the ICC for almost ten years, and was President of the Court for three. Prior to that he was Legal Advisor to the UNHCR, and before that, a prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Orignally from Nigera, Judge Eboe-Osuji is a Canadian, and he practiced law in Toronto prior to his international law career. He is soon to take up a new position at the Lincoln Alexander School of Law at Ryerson University in Toronto. In our conversation Judge Eboe-Osuji reflects on his role in the development of the ICC, and some of the criticisms of the Court, before turning to a more detailed discussion of the meaning of the term “directing attacks” in the Rome Statute, through the lens of the Ntaganda case. This leads to a discussion of the relationship between so-called Hague Law and Geneva Law in IHL, and between war crimes and crimes against humanity within the Rome Statute, all within the context of the object and purpose of IHL, and the need for intelligibility and accessibility as a fundamental component of the rule of law – fascinating discussion!

Materials:

The Prosecutor v. Bosco Ntaganda, Appeal Chamber Decision, Mar. 30, 2021.

The Prosecutor v. Bosco Ntaganda, Trial Chamber Decision, Jul 28, 2019.

– Abhimanyu George Jain, “The Ntaganda Appeal Judgement and the Meaning of “Attack” in the Conduct of Hostilities War Crimes,” EJILTalk!, Apr. 2, 2021.

– Ronald Acala and Sasha Radin, “Symposium Intro: The ICC Considers the Definition of ‘Attack.'” Articles of War, Oct. 27, 2020.

Reading Recommendations:

– Stanley Milgram, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View (1969).

– Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: The Banality of Evil (1963).

– Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (2017).