Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Bellinger: Prisoners in War: Contemporary Challenges to the Geneva Conventions

John B. Bellinger, III (Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State) gave a speech at the University of Oxford on Monday on Prisoners in War: Contemporary Challenges to the Geneva Conventions. He concluded:

As we move forward then, I hope I have demonstrated that Common Article 3 and other applicable international legal rules do not answer important questions related to both the initiation and termination of detention in armed conflict with transnational terrorist groups. While there may be a range of reasonable policy answers, none are dictated by international law. I hope that the scholarly debate in this area will move beyond assertions that all that is needed is better implementation of existing law, and instead work will begin in earnest on addressing the difficult challenges I have identified. It is very easy for all of us to agree that the fight against transnational terrorism must be conducted in accordance with the rule of law, but it is much harder to say what the law exactly is, and how it should be applied in this context. As I continue my dialogue with other governments, I will continue to encourage them to work towards a common approach in dealing with these issues.

Duncan Hollis comments at Opinio Juris.