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.
MAJ Peter Combe argues that the covert action statute prohibits the Central Intelligence Agency from violating self-executing treaties to which the United States is party, as well as non-self-executing treaties and customary international law implemented by statute, but it provides domestic legal authority to violate non-self-executing treaties and customary international law that have not been implemented through legislation by Congress. This application of the covert action statute in practice is illuminated through a case study of the legal issues surrounding the Osama bin Laden raid.
In this article, Kevin Rousseau explores the ways in which the modern focus on international humanitarian law has affected strategic decisions of both weak and major powers. Rousseau provides examples of “lawfare” in action and concludes by observing that waning principles of sovereignty require the state to adapt to the changing international legal operating environment by more effectively wielding humanitarian law.
Jennifer Daskal describes the challenges facing law enforcement access to data across borders and examines the legal and political issues at stake in formulating clear standards for cross-border access to data. Daskal also presents possible mechanisms for establishing a framework for law enforcement access to content and non-content data in foreign jurisdictions.
In this article, Clare Sullivan posits that the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment (“Sony Hack”) heralds the arrival of a new form of modern warfare. She argues that the current state of international law is inadequate to deal with hacks like this one, which do not cause physical damage but which nonetheless result in serious economic harm and violations of privacy. In the author’s view, a new approach is needed to ensure that countries are permitted under international law to respond to and take countermeasures against such hacks.