|Papers from the 3rd ELAC Annual Workshop published as symposium in the Leiden Journal of International Law|
Conference papers from the 3rd ELAC Annual Workshop in September 2011 on 'Law and Ethics in War' have been published in a symposium issue of the Leiden Journal of International Law (Volume 26 - Issue 02 - June 2013).The papers include David Luban on 'Military Necessity and the Cultures of Military Law' and 'Should International Law Ensure the Moral Acceptability of War?' by Janina Dill. You can read the full issue at this link:
|In Syria, the U.S. ‘red line’ continues to shift - Jennifer Welsh writes on the ongoing conflict|
Jennifer Welsh comments on in the Canadian Globe and Mail on the Syrian conflict, contrasting the recent Israeli air strikes with the US lack of action, despite the suspected use of chemical weapons that President Obama had previously stated would 'cross a “red line” and change his decision-making calculus'. Professor Welsh notes that '...as powerful as the humanitarian rationale for action may be, it is very rarely the determinant for Western action'. You can read the full article here.
|Hugo Slim interviewed on humanitarian action in Syria on IPI Global Observatory|
Hugo Slim discusses the ethics of humanitarian action, including impartiality and the rights of individuals in an interview with Jérémie Labbé, Senior Policy Analyst, International Peace Institute (IPI). You can read and listen to the full interview on the IPI Global Observatory website here.
|Kenya’s Hopes for Justice in the Hands of the Accused - Serena Sharma on the contested Presidential elections|
Today the Kenyan Supreme Court faced its most critical challenge to date, as it delivered its verdict on the petition contesting the results of the presidential election held on 4 March. In its landmark decision, the judicial body upheld Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory as declared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on 9 March. While the verdict was certainly disappointing for Raila Odinga and his supporters, the decision to contest the election through the Courts and – most crucially of all – accept its verdict, is a powerful vote of confidence in Kenya’s reformed judiciary. Odinga’s decision to contest the election through the Courts stands in sharp contrast to the disputed election of 2007-08. Five years ago, lack of faith in Kenya’s judiciary meant that challenges to the poll results played out in the streets, leading to widespread violence that swept across the country. With nearly 1300 killed and hundreds of thousands displaced, the 2007-08 post-election violence amounted to Kenya’s worst political crisis since independence.
In so many ways, the 4 March elections in Kenya can be viewed as a concerted attempt to disassociate from the experience of 2007-08. In the lead up to the polls, messages of peace flooded the airwaves and television stations across the country. On 24 February, the presidential candidates attended a peace prayer at Nairobi’s Uhuru Park in a show of solidarity, which would have been unthinkable five years ago. Moreover, as part of a broader effort to deter incidences of hate speech and incitement, which were rampant in 2007-08, civil society groups embarked on media monitoring campaigns. On Election Day itself, the national newspapers, the Daily Nation and Standard, ran the headlines ‘Never Again’ and ‘Let Peace Prevail’ respectively. In the anxious days between voting and the IEBC’s announcement, there were countless calls for calm. These appeals for peace continued as the Supreme Court deliberated on the results.
In spite of the efforts to consciously break with the past, the shadow of 2007-08 was unmistakably present in this election. The candidacy of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, both facing trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for their alleged role in the 2007-08 violence, served as a grim reminder that justice has not been prioritised in Kenya’s broader reform effort. Multiple attempts to establish a local tribunal to prosecute perpetrators of the post-election violence have failed, prompting the involvement of the ICC as a last resort. Although the ICC can only prosecute a handful of perpetrators, it is unlikely – even with the newfound faith in Kenya’s judiciary – that proposals for a domestic mechanism will be resurrected any time soon. Consequently, the ICC remains Kenya’s best hope for delivering justice.
It is difficult to deny the sobering effect the ICC has had in a country where impunity has been endemic. At the same time, there have been a number of unintended consequences associated with the ICC’s involvement in Kenya. Among the most crucial is the alliance between Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, which appeared to materialise as a direct response to the ICC. While it is perhaps still too early to assess the overall impact of the ICC in Kenya, much will depend on how effectively the Court is able to carry out its work. Recently, the case of Francis Muthaura, a co-accused of Kenyatta, collapsed after evidence from a key witness had been compromised. In view of the continuing difficulties surrounding witnesses, ICC Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda has referred to the Kenyan cases as the most challenging the ICC has ever faced.
While some view the involvement of the ICC as an unwelcome infringement on Kenya’s sovereignty, the fate of Muthaura’s case serves as a reminder of how much the Court relies on cooperation in order to function, not only of the accused, but also of the Kenyan Government. As a consequence of today’s Supreme Court decision, the two are now officially one and the same. In this respect, the final opportunity for delivering justice in Kenya, rather ironically, resides with those who have been deemed to be bear the greatest responsibility for the 2007-08 violence.
The tensions that have now become apparent in Kenya’s ICC cases
are also reflected in the Kenyan
National Dialogue and Reconciliation (KNDR) – the African Union-sponsored
mediation process, which has been credited with halting
the violence in 2007-08. Although the mediation in Kenya has
been deemed successful, progress on addressing some the structural
factors underlying the violence, which were identified as part of
this process, have been painfully slow. The countless difficulties
facing Kenya’s Truth
Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), created as part
of the KNDR process to investigate gross human rights violations
and historical injustices, is a testament to this fact. Given the
extent to which the mediation process further entrenched Kenya’s
political elite, the state of the TJRC is not particularly surprising.
The key question now is whether efforts to address impunity through
the Court of last resort will encounter a similar fate.
|ELAC Contibutes to new RUSI Whitehall Report, 'Hitting the Target?' on deploying dones|
ELAC's Dr Alexander Leveringhaus and his co-researcher Tjerk de Greef (Delft) have contibuted to the new RUSI Whitehall Report: 'Hitting the Target? How New Capabilities Are Shaping International Intervention'.
The report considers the use of advanced technological capabilities in modern conflict, and whether ethical, legal, and policy frameworks have kept up with the pace of technological change. Dr Leveringhaus and Dr de Greef specifically examine the challenges of deploying tele-operated (remote-controlled) unmanned aerial vehciles (drones) during humanitarian intervention (see also ELAC's current reseach project 'Military Enhancement: Design for Responsibility and Combat Systems').
The report, produced by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI)
in association with cii (Centre for International Intervention,
University of Surrey) will be launched in London on 26 March. See
the event details here.
|Unfinished business? The final diplomatic conference on the Arms Trade Treaty resumed|
Dr Gilles Giacca (Programme Co-ordinator of the Oxford Martin School Programme on Human Rights for Future Generations) is closely following the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty in New York.
The renewed UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty opened on 18 March 2013 for a total of nine days. Optimism is running high that despite the very short time frame, and the unseemly collapse of negotiations in July 2012, an agreement can be secured this time around. There is currently no international instrument that regulates the conventional arms trade. A multilateral treaty of global scope would close the gaps and inconsistencies that exist between the current range of domestic and regional arms export control systems. It remains to be seen whether further efforts in the next two weeks will reach consensus within the UN or if certain States may later decide to conduct negotiations outside the United Nations, in a similar way to which the 1997 Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention or the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions were elaborated.
Insights and daily updates on the Arms Trade Treaty legal blog: http://armstradetreaty.blogspot.ch.
Oxford Martin School Programme on Human Rights for Future Generations
and ELAC share a Co-Director (Dapo Akande) and are planning several
joint events in the upcoming months. Please see the ELAC
events pages for further information.
|Amos Guiora Writes on Targeted Killing|
ELAC Research Associate Professor Amos N. Guiora writes on the controversial subject of targeted killing in several recent pieces.In the Jurist online forum on targeted killing, and the danger of tragic mistakes that come from making decisions in 'a "closed world" devoid of oversight and review'. He calls instead for a form of judicial review, and 'a drone policy predicated on the rule of law and morality rather than the deeply troubling paradigm established by the Obama administration in the DOJ white paper'. Read the full article here. Professor Giora has also produced a working paper: 'Targeted Killing: When Proportionality Gets All Out of Proportion' which explores this in more detail. Read the full article here. You can also read Professor Giora quoted in The Guardian online on US drones policy here: 'Democrats' silence on drones leaves right in unlikely alliance with activists' .
|'North Korea’s third nuclear test – what’s different this time round?'|
|Dr Nicola Horsburgh writes for the Poltitcs in Spires blog on the implications of the recent North Korean nuclear weapons test, which appeared to be of a greater magnitude then in previous years, using a nucler material in more plentiful supply. While the Chinese and US response is still unfolding, she notes that 'the stakes, both technical and political, are higher this time round'. You can read the full article here.|
|'Legitimate Target: A Criteria-Based Approach to Targeted Killing'|
|ELAC Research Associate Professor Amos N. Guiora has
recently published a new book -'Legitimate Target: A Criteria-Based
Approach to Targeted Killing' (OUP 2013)
In this, Professor Guiora proposes that targeted killing decisions must reflect consideration of four distinct elements: law, policy, morality, and operational details, thus ensuring that it complies with principles of domestic and international laws. The author, writing from both personal experience and an academic perspective, offers important criticism and insight into the policy as presently implemented, highlighting the need for a criteria based decision making process in defining and identifying a legitimate target.Download the OUP flyer here.
|'Targeted Killing on Trial' - Jennifer Welsh blogs on drones and accountability|
As part of an ongoing series on the use of drones, Jennifer Welsh blogs in the Canadian International Council Roundtable on calls for greater transparency and accountability with respect to targeted killing, especially by the US Obama administration.
You can read the full article here.
|'When Regional Solutions Fail' - Jennifer Welsh on French intervention in Mali|
Jennifer Welsh comments on the Roundtable blog following the recent French intervention in the conflict in Mali. On the failure of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to deploy in time to prevent an esclation of violence she notes that "...while regional organizations are often touted as the legitimate and preferred actors in crises such as Mali, they cannot always fulfill their mandate. Capacity and politics can get in the way".
You can read the full article here.
|Hugo Slim blogs on the ethics of humanitarian aid following the BBC4 documentary 'The Trouble with Aid'|
Hugo Slim blogs following the BBC 4 screening of the documentary “The Trouble With Aid”, an analysis of humanitarian aid in war and disasters followed by a studio debate, but considers that the film was 'skewed and incomplete' - and while the moral decisions are complex, 'that humanitarian agencies can make even a small difference to people's lives in these protracted wars needs to be recognised and celebrated'.You can read the full pieces in The Guardian and AlertNet here: here.
|Amos Guiora comments on the targeting of "children with potential hostile intent" in Afghanistan|
ELAC Research Associate Professor Amos Guiora comments in The Guardian on the moral questions surrounding decisions over legitimate military targets, decribing the recent statement by a senior US army official that they were looking out for "children with potential hostile intent" as "...beyond troubling. It is also illegal and immoral."
You can read the full article here: 'US military facing fresh questions over targeting of children in Afghanistan'
|Self Determination and the Syrian Conflict - Dapo Akande on the UK Recognition of Opposition Forces|
Dapo Akande writes in his blog on EJIL: Talk! on the political and legal implications of the UK's recent decision to recognise the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (NCS) as the “sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people". Comparing this with reaction to previous national liberation movements fighting against colonial or racist regimes, he discusses whether the Syrian conflict is one where the political process has failed to allow for internal self-determination, and what this means for intervention by the international community.
You can read the full article here.
|Jennifer Welsh blogs on The ‘Wicked Problem’ in Syria - Why there aren’t any good options for those on the outside|
In a piece for her OpenCanada blog, Jennifer Welsh discusses the failure of the international community to help to end the conflict in Syria, pointing out that 'we are 20 months into the Syrian crisis, with little sign of how it will be resolved'. She questions whether the best stragety may be '... to recognize that Syria represents what some social theorists call a ‘wicked problem’: one that is resistant to resolution'.
You can read the full article here.
|Palestine as a UN Observer State: Does this Make Palestine a State? Dapo Akande blogs on EJIL: Talk!|
Dapo Akande blogs on the legal implications of the decision by the UN General Assembly “to accord to Palestine non-member observer State status in the United Nations”, an '...act of collective recognition of the statehood of Palestine'.
You can read the full article here.
|'What is the United Nations For?' - Research Associate Prof Sir Michael Aaronson blogs on UN failures during the Sri Lankan civil war|
|In a recent article for e-international relations, Sir Michael Aaronson comments on the recent UN internal report on the handling of the Sri Lankan civil war which ended in 2009 - which points at serious failings in both the UN Secretariat and amongst UN Member States- and discusses the implications for the role of the United Nations in international intervention and the concept of the responsibility to protect. You can read the full article here. Sir Michael Aaronson is Director of cii – the Centre for International Intervention – at the University of Surrey, and a Research Associate of ELAC.|
|Hugo Slim appointed as member of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Conflict Prevention|
|Dr Hugo Slim has recently been appointed a member
of the Global Agenda Council on Conflict Prevention.
In 2008, the World Economic Forum created the Network of Global Agenda
Councils, on the foremost topics in the global arena. Each of these
Councils convenes relevant thought leaders from academia, government,
business and other fields to capture the best knowledge on each key
issue and integrate it into global collaboration and decision-making
The Council on Conflict Prevention is committed to fostering business and peacebuilding collaboration, fuelling new and more effective peacebuilding alliances.
You can read more on the World Economic Forum website here
|David Rodin on 'Morality and Ethics in the Gaza Conflict ' BBC Radio 4's The Moral Maze|
Dr David Rodin appeared on the BBC Radio 4 programme The Moral Maze' on 21 November 2012, discussing the recent escalation of violence in Gaza.
'Both sides in the current conflict in Gaza have been claiming the moral high ground. To the Israelis it's an issue of self-defence and they're trying to avoid casualties. To Hamas it's about responding to the oppression and aggression of a much more powerful neighbour. The world looks on, counting the bodies and is almost inevitably drawn to the graphic simplicities of competing victimhood. The Palestinians win that hands down, but, terrible though it is, there's more to morality than suffering. What if, as the Israeli writer Amos Oz says, they're both right? Should we substitute pragmatism for morality? Stop trying to weigh up competing moral claims in the interests of some sort of solution. Or is giving up the idea of right and wrong, relativism of the worst kind, that could lead to a different kind of moral tragedy? Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Anne McElvoy, Matthew Taylor and Claire Fox'.
Witnesses: Professor Daniel Statman - Department of Philosophy, University of Haifa, Dr David Rodin - Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict, University of Oxford, Dr Philip Cunliffe - Lecturer in International Conflict, University of Kent.You listen to this programme on iPlayer radio here: The Moral Maze
|Humanitarian Intervention and R2P - Jennifer Welsh describes the importance of ELAC's research in a new 'Oxford Impacts' video|
Jennifer Welsh highlights her recent research on the responsibility to protect (R2P) and prevention in a new video webcast for the University of Oxford. She describes this innovative approach and its global importance and impact.You can view the video from this page: Oxford Impacts videos
The 'Oxford Impacts' video series celebrates the ways that Oxford University benefits the world of policy, health, business and culture.Read more about ELAC's research on prevention and R2P here.
- News for the 2011/2012 academic year
- News for the 2010/2011 academic year
- News for the 2009/2010 academic year
- News for the 2008/2009 academic year