Category Archives: International Law

Proxy War

Proxy War Ethics

In this article, Anthony Pfaff discusses what ethical norms should govern proxy war and the relationships that sustain them; the way the existence of a benefactor-proxy relationship complicates the application of traditional jus ad bellum criteria; and the additional moral problems caused by the way proxy wars shift risk away from benefactors. He concludes by suggesting a set of norms that should guide proxy relationships.

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Legal Interoperability

Understanding the Challenge of Legal Interoperability in Coalition Operations

In coalition operations, individual States may be responsible in law for some, but not all, of the activities conducted, and coalition members will often have different legal obligations or varying interpretations of the same obligations. In this article, David S. Goddard explores the challenges of achieving legal interoperability—the effective managing of these differences— and suggests a framework for understanding and addressing this problem.

Syria Attack

Assessing US Justifications for Using Force in Response to Syria’s Chemical Attacks: An International Law Perspective

Michael Schmitt and Christopher Ford unpack the Trump Administration’s legal justifications for the April 2017 United States attack on a Syrian airfield in response to its use of chemical weapons against civilians. Schmitt and Ford discuss three possible legal bases for the use of force: self-defense, response to an internationally wrongful act, and humanitarian intervention. The authors conclude that the US’s actions run afoul of limitations in each relevant body of law, and of note, they discuss how this attack is consequential for the validity of humanitarian intervention on another state’s territory without approval from the UN Security Council. They conclude by suggesting that the international community is likely to consider the nature of suffering, in addition to the quantum of suffering, as bearing on the right of States to mount future humanitarian operations.

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