Earlier this week, the European Journal of International Law (EJIL) published as part of a Symposium on Human Rights and Resort to War a series of papers that were produced for ELAC’s workshop on the same topic, which took place between 14-15 November 2019.
While there has been much emphasis on the relationship between the jus in bello (the rules relating to the conduct of participants during an armed conflict) and human rights, the workshop and the EJIL symposium were an opportunity to revisit the relationship between the jus ad bellum (the rules governing resort to armed force) and human rights. This relationship and the opportunity to discuss it were reignited by the publication of the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s General Comment 36 on the right to life in October 2018. In particular, the Committee found that ‘States parties engaged in acts of aggression as defined in international law, resulting in deprivation of life, violate ipso facto article 6 of the Covenant’.
Contributions to the symposium examine three points of interaction between these bodies of rules. First, the suggestion that resort to force in violation of the jus ad bellum will amount to a violation of the right to life is explored. Second, some contributions examine different arguments as to whether international law permits, justifies or excuses resort to force to protect human rights, and indeed whether it can change to permit such forcible interventions. Third, one contribution examines whether the crime of aggression, as defined in the ICC Statute, covers resort to force to protect human rights.