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  • Author: Alejandro Chehtman
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: European Journal of International Law
  • Institution: European Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: Drones constitute an incremental advance in weapons systems. They are able to significantly reduce overall, as well as collateral, damage. These features seem to have important implications for the permissibility of resorting to military force. In short, drones would seem to expand the right to resort to military force compared to alternative weapons systems by making resorting to force proportionate in a wider set of circumstances. This line of reasoning has significant relevance in many contemporary conflicts. This article challenges this conclusion. It argues that resorting to military force through drones in contemporary asymmetrical conflicts would usually be disproportionate. The reason for this is twofold. First, under conditions of radical asymmetry, drones may not be discriminatory enough, and, thereby, collateral damage would still be disproportionate. Second, their perceived advantages in terms of greater discrimination are counteracted by the lesser chance of success in achieving the just cause for war. As a result, resorting to military force through drones in contemporary asymmetrical conflicts would generally be disproportionate not because of the harm they would expectedly cause but, rather, because of the limited harm they are ultimately able to prevent. On the basis of normative argument and empirical data, this article ultimately shows that we need to revise our understanding of proportionality not only at the level of moral argument but also in international law.
  • Topic: International Law, War, Military Affairs, Weapons , Drones
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Europe
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: European Journal of International Law
  • Institution: European Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: I think it is difficult to contest that the most important state player in world affairs over the last one hundred years – and consistently so over this period – has been the United States of America. World War I – into which, to borrow from Christopher Clark's justly celebrated book, we 'sleepwalked' – marks a useful starting point. It is not only the fairly important role America played in bringing WWI to an end that signals the beginning of this era, but also the no less important role it played in shaping the aftermath. Wilson's 14 points were considered at the time 'idealistic' by some of the yet-to-be 'Old Powers'. But by dismantling the Ottoman Empire through the principle of self-determination (not at that time a universal legally binding norm) it was an early swallow to the demise, a mere generation later, of all other colonial empires and the truly decisive reshaping of the balance of power in the post-WWII world. The US played an equally cardinal role in ideating and realizing the United Nations Organization and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – two lynchpins of our current world order.
  • Topic: Human Rights, War
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Gaza
  • Author: Rotem Giladi
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: European Journal of International Law
  • Institution: European Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: The Martens clause has made F. F. Martens one of the 'household names of our profession'. Since its first appearance in the preamble to the 1899 Hague Convention (II) on the Laws and Customs of War on Land, the clause has incessantly been puzzled over, historicized, celebrated, and re-enacted. Much of the extant discourse, however, is geared towards normative construction of the clause. This article, by contrast, seeks to depart from normative construction of the clause and draw attention, instead, to the discourse it has generated. To facilitate discursive exploration and demonstrate its pertinence, I offer a critical reading of the clause's origins as the enactment of an irony. Thus, the making of the clause saw words used to express something in the opposite of their literal meaning. In time, the clause itself came to represent that which is entirely the opposite of what it was first used for. These and other ironies underpin how the clause itself, its making, and Martens' role therein are interpreted, historicized, and celebrated today. They also pave the way for critical explorations of the clause's epistemic significance.
  • Topic: War
  • Author: Yishai Beer
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: European Journal of International Law
  • Institution: European Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: The exercise of brute force by militaries, though common, reflects professional incompetency. A well-trained military has an inherent interest in enhancing its operational effectiveness and constraining unnecessary brutality. The law of armed conflict, however, generally ignores the constraining effect of the necessity principle, originally intended to allow only the minimally necessary use of force on the battlefield. Consequently, the prevailing law places the burden of restricting the exercise of brute military force upon humanitarian considerations (and the specific norms derived from them). Humanity alone, however, cannot deliver the goods and substantially reduce war’s hazards. This article challenges the current dichotomy between the two pillars – mistakenly assumed to be polar opposites – of the law of armed conflict: necessity and humanity. It calls for the transformation of the military’s self-imposed professional constraining standards into a revised legal standard of necessity. Though the necessity principle justifies the mere use of lethal force, it should not only facilitate wielding the military sword but also function simultaneously as a shield, protecting combatants and non-combatants alike from excessive brutality. The suggested transformation would bind and restrain the prospective exercisers of excessive force, political and military alike, and restrict the potential damage that might be caused both intentionally (to combatants) and collaterally (to non-combatants). The combined effect of the current changes in war’s pattern and the law of armed conflict, in the military and social thinking of recent decades, and the new strategies available due to the development of new military technologies have all created a new war environment – one that may be ready to leverage the constraining potential of military professionalism into a binding legal standard and norms.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, International Law, Treaties and Agreements, War
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe