The Columbia Human Rights Law Review, in collaboration with the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute, is issuing a call for submissions for a special symposium edition entitled “Human Rights and the ‘Forever War.’” As the United States approaches 15 years of the “War on Terror” with no end in sight, we issue this call for papers to provide a space for the robust exploration and critical analysis of the relationship between human rights law and international humanitarian law and jus ad bellum before and after the “Forever War.” With a view toward strengthening the role of human rights law in institutions and policy decisions worldwide, we seek papers examining US and ally practices, policies, and legal interpretations, including the ways in which they may be influencing or displacing longstanding protections of international human rights law. We invite papers from both scholars and practitioners, and encourage submissions from outside the United States.

The full call for papers is available here and below. 

Human Rights and the ‘Forever War’

The Columbia Human Rights Law Review (HRLR), in collaboration with the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute (HRI), is publishing a symposium edition about the relationship between the U.S. ‘War on Terror’, sometimes referred to as the ‘Forever War,’ and human rights law. We invite proposals on topics of your own framing consistent with the symposium’s general purpose of advancing scholarship and critical analysis regarding human rights law and its relationship with international humanitarian law and jus ad bellum during and after the ‘Forever War.’

The following are suggestions for possible themes and issues:

1) To what extent have practices, policies, and legal interpretations of the United States and partner countries associated with the ‘Forever War’ affected the content, structure, or scope of application of human rights law? Where have human rights been strengthened, and where weakened or displaced? Have U.S. and partner country abuses during counter-terrorism and military operations—practices such as torture, extraordinary rendition, indefinite detention, mass surveillance, and unlawful killings—changed the landscape of human rights law, including its relationship with international humanitarian law? Has the ‘War on Terror’ led to positive developments in human rights law, such as best practices or new jurisprudence? What effects might the U.S. ‘War on Terror’ have on human rights law for the foreseeable future?

2) How are legal developments in international humanitarian law, the jus ad bellum, and human rights law interacting in the context of the ‘Forever War’? Are old categories bleeding into each other or evolving in new ways?

3) How might a pre-war legal landscape be restored, and should it be? How can long-fought-for human rights protections best be maintained during and after current counter-terrorism approaches and armed conflicts?

4) What are the prospects for accountability and compensation for human rights abuses and/or international humanitarian law violations in the ‘War on Terror’? What are the legal and policy underpinnings of accountability and compensation mechanisms, and what should they look like?

5) What are the international impacts of U.S. actions? How are other countries reacting to U.S. actions and policies? To what extent have U.S. ‘war’-related policies and legal interpretations relating to torture, rendition, targeted killings, or mass surveillance influenced international relations, including state-to-state relations?

Proposed papers may address these issues at a general level or in application in a specific context. The symposium issue has both scholarly and practical objectives. We are seeking articles that examine both the short-term and long-term challenges that arise from the relationship between the ‘Forever War’ and human rights law, and are particularly interested in papers that seek to strengthen the role of human rights law in institutions and policy decisions worldwide. Our target audience includes legal academics, NGOs, and government lawyers and policy makers. We invite papers from both scholars and practitioners, and encourage submissions from outside the United States.

Submission Instructions and Deadlines:

Individuals interested in publishing should submit a prospectus summary of no more than 1000 words describing the paper’s proposed topic, themes, and research methodologies by no later than April 20, 2015. The HRLR, in coordination with HRI, will then select 4–6 papers for presumption of publication. Please submit abstracts to under the subject line “HRLR Symposium Abstract.”

We anticipate review of several interim drafts over the summer of 2015. As a reference, HRLR submissions generally range from 10,000 to 30,000 words. There may be an opportunity to present papers at Columbia Law School in the fall of 2015. Any major edits to your article must be completed and submitted by October 26, 2015. The article will then undergo our editing process, with anticipated publication in April 2016.