Saturday, March 23, 2013

New Issue: Nordic Journal of Human Rights

The latest issue of the Nordic Journal of Human Rights (Vol. 31, no. 1, 2013) is out. Contents include:
  • Monika A Szkarlat, The Contribution of Genetically Modified Food to the Realisation of the Right to Adequate Food
  • Jon Petter Rui, The Interlaken, Izmir and Brighton Declarations: - Towards a Paradigm Shift in the Strasbourg Court’s Interpretation of the European Convention of Human Rights?
  • Mutaz M Qafisheh, The International Status of National Human Rights Institutions: - A Comparison with NGOs
  • Camila Gianella-Malca, A Human Rights Based Approach to Participation in Health Reform: - Experiences from the Implementation of Constitutional Court Orders in Colombia

Friday, March 22, 2013

Call for Papers: Business and Human Rights: From Theory to Practice

The European Society of International Law Interest Group on Business and Human Rights has issued a call for papers for a panel during the 5th ESIL Research Forum in Amsterdam. Here's the call:

The European Society of International Law (ESIL) Interest Group on Business and Human Rights is calling for papers for its panel on 23 May 2013 at the 5th ESIL Research Forum, Amsterdam. Following the overarching theme of the Research Forum, International Law as a Profession, we invite papers addressing contemporary issues in the field of business and human rights which consider practical challenges in this context. Papers may consider (but are not limited to) the following perspectives:

  • Advocacy: how can the business and human rights agenda be promoted through lobbying for or against regulation? How does the process of evidence gathering with regard to the lack of corporate compliance with human rights take place? How do practitioners engage with state and non-state actors to move the agenda forward?
  • Litigation: how may practitioners take a corporation to court? What are the legal and procedural obstacles in different jurisdictions? What is the future of US litigation after Kiobel? What are the European alternatives?
  • Policy and law making: how may international rules in this context be drafted and passed through national and international institutions? Papers considering this dimension may specifically refer to the national implementation and action plans and processes for the Ruggie framework which are currently taking place in various countries.

Please submit a 300 words abstract proposal (Word or pdf format) via email to Dr. Olga Martin-Ortega (O.Martin-Ortega@greenwich.ac.uk) by 15 April 2013. Candidates are requested to include their name and affiliation in the email but not in the abstract itself.

In order to participate in the Interest Group panel speakers need to be members of ESIL. The membership can be formalised once their abstract has been accepted.

Information on the 5th ESIL Research Forum is available here: http://www.esil2013.nl/

Thibault: De la responsabilité de protéger les populations menacées. L'emploi de la force et la possibilité de la justice

Jean-François Thibault (Université de Moncton - Political Science) has published De la responsabilité de protéger les populations menacées. L'emploi de la force et la possibilité de la justice (Presses de l'Université Laval 2013). Here's the abstract:
Cet ouvrage s’interroge sur ce que devrait faire la communauté internationale lorsqu’un État n’assure plus la fonction de protection qui est la sienne, mais qu’il use et abuse au contraire de son pouvoir, se retourne contre sa propre population et utilise les moyens dont il dispose pour fomenter, inciter ou encore laisser perpétrer une violation massive et systématique des droits de l’homme. Le concept de responsabilité de protéger qui s’impose depuis quelques années sur la scène internationale met en lumière que s’il est incapable d’assurer cette protection, l’État perd ce qui fonde sa légitimité dans le monde moderne et ouvre la porte à la responsabilité subsidiaire de la communauté internationale qui pourrait justifier d’employer la force armée pour protéger une population en péril.

Call for Papers: Interpretation in International Law

A call for papers has been issued for a conference on "Interpretation in International Law," to take place August 27, 2013, at the University of Cambridge. Here's the call:

Interpretation in International Law

University of Cambridge

August 27, 2013

CALL FOR PAPERS

The relevance of interpretation to the academic study and professional practice of international law is inescapable. Yet interpretation in international law has not traditionally been examined as a distinct field. Given that international law is constituted, in practical terms, by acts of interpretation, there is a need for greater methodological awareness of interpretive theory and practice in international law.

The ‘Interpretation in International Law’ conference at the University of Cambridge in August 2013 aims to attract submissions focusing on the divergent processes of interpretation that exist in international law, whether these be differentiated linguistically, culturally, politically or socially. Submissions will be encouraged that deal with the interpretation process per se, as well as the place of interpretive process within the larger scheme of international law (such as divergent interpretations of concrete provisions, or the impact of interpretation on the sources of international law). The conference welcomes submissions from both philosophical and practical perspectives ensuring exposure of ideas and concepts that may otherwise have been confined to their own sub-fields.

The following speakers will give keynote presentations:

  • Sir David Baragwanath (President, Special Tribunal for Lebanon)
  • Professor Andrea Bianchi (The Graduate Institute, Geneva)
  • Dr Ingo Venzke (University of Amsterdam)

A wide variety of proposals are welcomed. Proposed panels include:

  • Interpretation and Legal Doctrine: this panel will highlight the doctrinal exposition of particular contested legal standards – for example, “fair and equitable treatment” and “cruel and unusual punishment” – as well as the methodologies behind such expositions in a range of international and regional courts and tribunals.
  • Interpretation and the Sources of International Law: this panel will focus on how interpretive practice interacts with, and institutes hierarchies amongst, the sources of international law. Where can the line be drawn between “dynamic” and “progressive” interpretive practice and law-making? Submissions dealing with treaty interpretation and the place of interpretation in the formation of custom are encouraged.
  • Interpretation and the Interpreters: this panel will examine how disparate interpretations of international law are granted the imprimatur by functionally specialized interpretive communities who use international law as a professional vocabulary (for example, judges, diplomats, legal advisers, arbitrators and regulators). To what extent is the interpretation of international law a competition for “semantic authority” (Ingo Venzke)?
  • Interpretation and the International Legal Order: this panel will consider the extent to which one’s interpretive posture depends on the vision of the international legal order that one advocates, such as constitutionalism or global administrative law. How are particular values, such as dignity and comity, foregrounded or neglected in the interpretive process? Do interpretive practices have the potential to bridge conceptual divides between public and private international law?
  • Interpretation and Cultural Contingency: James Crawford has recently stated that international lawyers must possess a “technique of plurilingual interpretation”. This panel will provide a forum for the exposition of culturally distinct interpretive practices, as well as a consideration of the benefits and drawbacks of divergent interpretations stemming from cultural differences.
  • Interpretation and Indeterminacy: this panel focuses on interpretation in light of the critical challenge to international law. How is interpretive practice affected by the allegation that apolitical rules are impossible and that values used to justify such rules are subjective? Given the fragmentation of international law, is an interpretive lingua franca attainable or is interpretive pluralism inevitable?

Abstract submissions must be between 300-500 words in length and should be accompanied by a short resume. Please submit your documents to cambridgeinterpretation@gmail.com. Any queries may be directed to the conference conveners, Daniel Peat (dcp31@cam.ac.uk) and Matthew Windsor (mrw48@cam.ac.uk).

The closing date for submissions is 1 May 2013. We will notify successful applicants by late May 2013, who must submit their papers by early August 2013. Conference papers should be between 6,000 and 10,000 words. Selected submissions will be considered for publication in an edited volume on the conference theme.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ramos: Changing Norms through Actions: The Evolution of Sovereignty

Jennifer M. Ramos (Loyola Marymount Univ. - Political Science) has published Changing Norms through Actions: The Evolution of Sovereignty (Oxford Univ. Press 2013). Here's the abstract:
How do international norms evolve? This book examines the manner in which sovereignty, a bedrock norm of international relations since the seventeenth century, has evolved in response to changing conceptions of the responsibilities of government. Whereas most previous studies of international norms have examined how norms influence policy decisions, this book asks, instead, how state policies actively shape international norms. Changing Norms through Actions contends that the concept of sovereignty is moving towards one in which states that are unable or unwilling to fulfill their domestic and international obligations are forced to relinquish certain sovereign responsibilities to the international community. As issues such as genocide, weapons of mass destruction, and terrorism have forced states to reassess their understandings of sovereignty, Ramos is interested in how understandings of norms - particularly long-held norms such as absolute sovereignty - change. If action taken by states reinforces an existing norm or alters current understandings of the norm, states must consider how their actions may change the "rules of the game" for the future. Even when a major power acts primarily out of its own self-interest, without any concern to international norms, the action may have the unintended consequence of modifying the normative environment within which other minor powers act. Shifting understandings of sovereignty (and how states relate to one another) can also have profound implications for the workings of the international system. Ramos looks specifically at what happens to sovereignty when states choose to bypass traditional norms of non-intervention on behalf of other competing norms, such as those regarding counterterrorism, human rights, or weapons of mass destruction.

Call for Papers: ¿A dónde va América Latina en el Derecho Económico Internacional?

A call for papers has been issued for a conference on "¿A dónde va América Latina en el Derecho Económico Internacional?," to take place October 28-29, 2013, in Lima, Peru. Here's the call:

¿A dónde va América Latina en el

Derecho Económico Internacional?

28 y 29 de octubre de 2013

Lima, Perú

Convocatoria para Artículos

La Red Latinoamericana de Derecho Económico Internacional (RED LAT-DEI), la Universidad de Chile y la Pontificia Universidad Católica de Perú, con el apoyo de la Society of International Economic Law (www.sielnet.org), la Sociedad Latinoamericana para el Derecho Internacional (www.lasil-sladi.org), y el Word Trade Institute de la Universidad de Berna (www.wti.org)., convocan a la presentación de artículos para la Segunda Conferencia Bianual de la RED LAT-DEI “¿A Dónde Va América Latina en el Derecho Económico Internacional?” A desarrollarse el 28 y 29 de octubre de 2013, en Lima, Perú.

PLAZO: 30 Mayo de 2013

COMUNICACIÓN DE LOS RESULTADOS: 30 Junio de 2013

ENTREGA PAPERS: 15 Septiembre de 2013

Entre el 28 y el 29 de octubre de 2013 tendrá lugar la Segunda Conferencia Bianual de la Red Latinoamericana de Derecho Económico Internacional en conjunto con la Universidad de Chile y la Pontificia Universidad Católica de Perú, en Lima, Perú. La conferencia cuenta con el apoyo de la Society of International Economic Law (www.sielnet.org), la Sociedad Latinoamericana para el Derecho Internacional (www.lasil-sladi.org), y el Word Trade Institute de la Universidad de Berna (www.wti.org).

El tema de la conferencia será: “¿A dónde va América Latina en el Derecho Económico Internacional?” Les invitamos a reunirse con reconocidos expertos en derecho económico internacional de diferentes partes del mundo para discutir sobre el estado y futuro de esta área del derecho en nuestra región. Contaremos con la participación de representantes de la Organización Mundial del Comercio, organizaciones económicas y de integración Latinoamericana, entre otros.

La primera conferencia bianual tuvo lugar en la Universidad Externado de Colombia, el 8 y 9 de septiembre de 2011. En la conferencia participaron algunos de los más importantes expertos en derecho internacional económico de la región, entre ellos miembros del Tribunal Permanente de Revisión del MERCOSUR, jueces del Tribunal de Justicia de la Comunidad Andina y del Órgano de Apelación de la OMC, más de 115 académicos, abogados y representantes de organizaciones internacionales. Las ponencias y artículos entregados en la conferencia han sido editados por los co-directores de la Red y el Departamento de Derecho Económico de la Universidad Externado de Colombia, y publicados en un libro que se encuentra ya disponible al público. La conferencia contará con mesas individuales y conferencias magistrales en formato de plenaria. Cada mesa tendrá un moderador y, según el caso, comentaristas.

Las propuestas para mesas o presentaciones individuales podrán presentarse en Portugués o Español en los siguientes tópicos, u otros relacionados con el tema de la Conferencia:

- derecho económico internacional (comercio, inversión, derecho financiero o monetario) en Latinoamérica o con un enfoque sobre Latinoamérica y sus vínculos con otras regiones;

- las instituciones de integración en Latinoamérica, su fragmentación y/o coherencia con otras instituciones globales;

- teoría jurídica de las relaciones económicas internacionales.

Las propuestas enviadas por estudiantes de Maestría o pregrado podrán ser elegibles como posters o sesiones.

Las propuestas deben ser entregadas antes del 30 mayo de 2013.

Para postular, solicitamos a los interesados enviar por correo electrónico un resumen de no más de 300 palabras con el tema a tratar en su ponencia, nombre, afiliación y breve biografía o CV. En caso de ser escogida, un borrador avanzado del artículo que desarrolla la propuesta debe entregarse antes del 15 de septiembre de 2013.

Por favor, indicar si el trabajo ha sido publicado, es un documento de trabajo o es inédito. Con la presentación de la propuesta se acepta que el artículo que entregará podrá ser publicado y reproducido en el segundo libro de memorias de la misma, por la institución que defina la Red LAT-DEI. Para efectos de la publicación, el artículo será de entre 20 y 30 paginas máximo.

La postulación de mesas debe contar con un título y resumen de la mesa, conferencistas comprometidos, información sobre ellos (tal como su afiliación) y los títulos y resúmenes de las presentaciones individuales. Los conferencistas deben estar de acuerdo con el título de su charla y confirmar su interés y disposición en participar.

Preferiblemente las mesas deben representar (si el tema lo requiere) la diversidad de opiniones existentes y países.

Les pedimos enviar las propuestas vía e-mail a jmalvarez@etb.net.co

Los resultados serán anunciados en Junio de 2013. Las propuestas serán leídas por dos árbitros o miembros del comité organizador, conformado por los directores de la Red, representantes de las universidades organizadoras y el Comité Ejecutivo de la Red.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Fidler: Economic Cyber Espionage and International Law: Controversies Involving Government Acquisition of Trade Secrets through Cyber Technologies

David P. Fidler (Indiana Univ., Bloomington - Law) has posted an ASIL Insight on Economic Cyber Espionage and International Law: Controversies Involving Government Acquisition of Trade Secrets through Cyber Technologies.

New Issue: European Journal of International Relations

The latest issue of the European Journal of International Relations (Vol. 19, no. 1, March 2013) is out. Contents include:
  • Maja Bovcon, Françafrique and regime theory
  • Andrew Davenport, Marxism in IR: Condemned to a Realist fate?
  • Jack Holland, Foreign policy and political possibility
  • Chris Methmann, The sky is the limit: Global warming as global governmentality
  • Mark Neocleous, ‘O Effeminacy! Effeminacy!’ War, masculinity and the myth of liberal peace
  • Colin McInnes & Simon Rushton, HIV/AIDS and securitization theory
  • Patricia Owens, From Bismarck to Petraeus: The question of the social and the Social Question in counterinsurgency
  • Katharina P. Coleman, Locating norm diplomacy: Venue change in international norm negotiations

Forlati & Annoni: The Changing Role of Nationality in International Law

Serena Forlati (Univ. of Catanzaro - Law) & Alessandra Annoni (Univ. of Ferrara - Law) have published The Changing Role of Nationality in International Law (Routledge 2013). The table of contents is here. Here's the abstract:
The book explores the current role of nationality from the point of view of international law, reassessing the validity of the ‘classical’, state-centered, approach to nationality in light of the ‘new’ role the human being is gradually acquiring within the international legal order. In this framework, the collection assesses the impact of international human rights rules on the international discourse on nationality and explores the significance international (including private international) law attaches to the links individuals may establish with states other than that of nationality. The book weighs the significance of the bond of nationality in the context of regional integration systems, and explores the fields of international law in which nationality still plays a pivotal role, such as diplomatic protection and dispute settlement in international investment law. The collection includes contributions from legal scholars of different nationalities and academic backgrounds, and offers an excellent resource for academics, practitioners and students undertaking advanced studies in international law.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Gopalan & Fuller: Enforcing International Law: States, IOs, and Courts as Shaming Reference Groups

Sandeep Gopalan (National Univ. of Ireland, Maynooth - Law) & Roslyn Fuller (National Univ. of Ireland, Maynooth - Law) have posted Enforcing International Law: States, IOs, and Courts as Shaming Reference Groups. Here’s the abstract:
We seek to answer the question as to whether international law imposes meaningful constraints on state behaviour. Unabated drone strikes by the dominant superpower in foreign territories, an ineffective United Nations, and persistent disregard for international law obligations suggest that the sceptics have won the debate about whether international law is law and whether it affects state behaviour. We argue that such a conclusion would be in error because it grossly underestimates the complex ways in which IL affects state behaviour. We argue that scholars who claim that the lack of coercive power in IL is fatal to it being law err in imagining that the types of physical coercion typically used in domestic law enforcement are the only types of coercion available for the enforcement of legal rules. Incarceration is not the only type of coercion available for the enforcement of legal rules. To be sure, depriving the offender of his liberty by locking him up in jail has severe expressive, deterrent, retributive, and incapacitative effects, but that does not itself lead to the conclusion that other punishments cannot achieve the same purposes and be just as coercive. If these alternative punishments can be shown to achieve the aforementioned effects, the central argument against IL being law falls. We aim to do this by focusing on a relatively neglected kind of sanction in IL – shaming. We show that IL is enforced by states, courts, and international organizations by the imposition of shame sanctions on offenders and that these sanctions affect state behaviour in the same ways that traditional coercive sanctions do. In doing the above, we also develop the concept of a shaming reference group.

New Issue: Les Cahiers de l'Arbitrage

The latest issue of Les Cahiers de l'Arbitrage (2013, no. 1) is out. Contents include:
  • Doctrine
    • Louis-Yves Fortier & Stéphanie Bachand, La nouvelle loi française sur l’arbitrage : vues d’Outre-Atlantique
    • Charles Poncet, La perception suisse de la Kompetenz-Kompetenz
    • Magali Boucaron-Nardetto, La compétence-compétence : le point de vue français, Plaidoyer pour la compétence-compétence à la française

Blank: Extending Positive Identification from Persons to Places: Terrorism, Armed Conflict and the Identification of Military Objectives

Laurie R. Blank (Emory Univ. - Law) has posted Extending Positive Identification from Persons to Places: Terrorism, Armed Conflict and the Identification of Military Objectives (Utah Law Review, forthcoming). Here's the abstract:
This Article addresses the identification of military objectives in a variety of non-international armed conflict contexts, including conflicts with terrorist groups operating transnationally and conflicts with non-state actors located outside the state’s borders. In particular, the nature of non-international armed conflict can alter how the basic definition and analysis of the term "military objective" is applied. To the extent that the application of the definition of military objectives in non-international armed conflicts introduces complications and conceptual challenges that blur the lines between civilian and military, and exacerbate existing difficulties, it is important to tease out and better understand those conceptual challenges. Building on foundational discussions of the law of targeting and the definition of military objective as set out in Additional Protocol I and customary international law, this Article analyzes the legal and operational complexities of identifying military objectives in non-international armed conflicts. The first question centers on the meaning of the criterion of "nature" and whether it is substantially narrower in the identification of military objectives on the non-state actor side of the conflict. A second major question concerns dual-use objects -- does the nature of non-international armed conflict result in nearly all objects being dual-use objects? Finally, this Article explores the ramifications of cross-border and transnational conflicts in particular for jus ad bellum and operational considerations as well in applying and interpreting the definition of military objectives.

Cordonier Segger, Perron-Welch, & Frison: Legal Aspects of Implementing the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

Marie-Claire Cordonier Segger (Centre for International Sustainable Development Law), Frederic Perron-Welch (Centre for International Sustainable Development Law), & Christine Frison (Centre for International Sustainable Development Law) have published Legal Aspects of Implementing the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (Cambridge Univ. Press 2013). The table of contents is here. Here's the abstract:
This book, the first in a new series that focuses on treaty implementation for sustainable development, examines key legal aspects of implementing the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at national and international levels. The volume provides a serious contribution to the current legal and political academic debates on biosafety by discussing key issues under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety that affect the further design of national and international law on biosafety, and analyzing recent progress in the development of domestic regulatory regimes for biosafety. In the year of the fifth UN Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, at the signature of a new Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Protocol on Liability and Redress, this timely book examines recent developments in biosafety law and policy.

Halliday, Pacewicz, & Block-Lieb: Who governs? Delegations and delegates in global trade lawmaking

Terence C. Halliday (American Bar Foundation), Josh Pacewicz (Brown Univ. - Sociology), & Susan Block-Lieb (Fordham Univ. - Law) have posted Who governs? Delegations and delegates in global trade lawmaking (Regulation & Governance, forthcoming). Here's the abstract:
Who governs in the international organizations (IOs) that promulgate global norms on trade and commercial law? Using a new analytic approach, this paper focuses on previously invisible attributes of a global legislature – the state and non-state delegations and delegates that create universal norms for international trade and commercial law through the most prominent trade law legislature, the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). Based on ten years of fieldwork, extensive interviews, and unique data on delegation and delegate attendance and participation in UNCITRAL's Working Group on Insolvency, we find that the inner core of global trade lawmakers at UNCITRAL represent a tiny and unrepresentative subset of state and non-state actors. This disjunction between UNCITRAL's public face, which accords with a global norm of democratic governance, and its private face, where dominant states and private interests prevail, raises fundamental questions about legitimacy and efficacy of representation in global lawmaking.

Monday, March 18, 2013

New Issue: Global Responsibility to Protect

The latest issue of Global Responsibility to Protect (Vol. 5, no. 1, 2013) is out. Here's the abstract:
  • John Karlsrud, Responsibility to Protect and Theorising Normative Change in International Organisations: From Weber to the Sociology of Professions
  • Susan Breau & Rachel Joyce, The Responsibility to Record Civilian Casualties
  • Kudrat Virk, India and the Responsibility to Protect: A Tale of Ambiguity
  • Ian Hall, Tilting at Windmills? The Indian Debate over the Responsibility to Protect after UNSC Resolution 1973
  • Alex J. Bellamy, Making RtoP a Living Reality: Reflections on the 2012 General Assembly Dialogue on Timely and Decisive Response

Klamberg: Evidence in International Criminal Trials: Confronting Legal Gaps and the Reconstruction of Disputed Events

Mark Klamberg (Stockholm Univ. - Law) has published Evidence in International Criminal Trials: Confronting Legal Gaps and the Reconstruction of Disputed Events (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers 2013). Here's the abstract:
In Evidence in International Criminal Trials Mark Klamberg compares procedural activities relevant for international criminal tribunals and the International Criminal Court, including evaluation, collection, disclosure, admissibility and presentation of evidence. The author analyses what objectives are recognized in relation to the aforementioned procedural activities and whether it is possible to establish a priority between them. The concept of “robustness” is introduced to discuss the quantity of evidence in addition to concepts that deal with quality. Finally, the exclusion of every reasonable hypothesis of innocence method is examined as one of several analytical steps that may contribute to the systematic evaluation of evidence. The book seeks to provide guidance on how to confront legal as well as factual issues.

Yeshanew: The Justiciability of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the African Regional Human Rights System

Sisay Alemahu Yeshanew has published The Justiciability of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the African Regional Human Rights System (Intersentia 2013). Here's the abstract:
The judicial and quasi-judicial enforceability of economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights has for long been disputed based on some flawed characterizations of the rights and concerns about the role of adjudication in addressing issues of socio-economic development. Underscoring the generally poor socio-economic conditions in most African states, this book argues that the justiciability of ESC rights in the African regional human rights system plays a subsidiary role in ensuring social justice and the accountability of public authorities in the states of the continent. It marries theory and practice relating to the normative, institutional and procedural aspects of the justiciability of ESC rights in exploring the actual and potential relevance of the African human rights system to the amelioration of impoverishment, disease, illiteracy, homelessness, starvation, marginalization and other related problems that may be framed in terms of violations of ESC rights.

Byrnes, Hayashi, & Michaelsen: International Law in the New Age of Globalization

Andrew Byrnes (Univ. of New South Wales - Law), Mika Hayashi (Kobe Univ. - Law) & Christopher Michaelsen (Univ. of New South Wales - Law) have published International Law in the New Age of Globalization (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers 2013). The table of contents is here. Here's the abstract:
This collection brings together a series of essays which address some of the challenges that globalization poses to the international legal order. The book examines the interaction of globalization and international law through four sub-themes: the adaptation of classical international legal tools to regulate and adjudicate community interests and conflicts in the era of globalization; coordinating dialogues and governance strategies within and between international legal systems and institutions; globalization and the diversification of actors; and the exposure of State sovereignty to private actors and the need to preserve the regulatory powers of States. The volume will be of interest to international law scholars, practitioners and students, as well as to those working in the fields of international relations and globalization.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Mégret: The Humanitarian Problem with Drones

Frédéric Mégret (McGill Univ. - Law) has posted The Humanitarian Problem with Drones. Here's the abstract:
One of the difficulties with the debate on drones is how it has become a sort of lightning rod for all kinds of anxieties about the use of force in today’s world. Drones are, often problematically, the emblematic weapon for a range of other phenomena and so, unsurprisingly, attract much polemic. The challenge, thus, is to find what is problematic specifically with drones as a technology in armed conflict that could not be dealt with better by invoking a larger genus of problems. In order to do this, I outline a series of ways in which drones have been seen as problematic which I argue are either not specifically humanitarian, or really interested in something else such as what the legal framework applicable to the “war on terror” should be. Separating these very important debates from the humanitarian questions that ought to be asked about drones as such is crucial if one is to make conceptual headway. I then examine the issue of whether there is anything that is specific and/or inherent to drones, and address the question of whether it is that drones cause unwarranted harm to civilians. I seek to explain how, regardless of the answer to that complicated question, drones are much more likely to be perceived as inflicting excessive damage due to their highly discriminatory potential but also, crucially, the way in which they maximize the safety of the drone operator. If anything, it is this aspect that is most specific and novel about drones. I argue that this absolute safety of the operator not only maximizes states’ ability to minimize collateral harm, as has already been observed elsewhere, but also has the potential to fundamentally alter the laws of war’s tolerance for collateral harm, which was always based on the assumption of a tradeoff between harm to the attacker and to “enemy civilians.” It is this tradeoff that is increasingly at risk of being rendered moot. I finish with an attempt to contextualize the drone problem within a larger history of exogenous technological shock to international humanitarian law and how it has addressed them. Overall, the article is interested not just in determining whether drone use may or may not be “legal” but also more broadly how it impacts some of the moral underpinnings of the laws of war.