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Tag Archive: ISIL

Targeted Killing Under Trump: Law, Policy, and Legal Risk

A recent Presidential Memorandum directs the Secretary of Defense to develop a preliminary plan to defeat ISIS. The plan “shall include . . . recommended changes to any United States rules of engagement and other United States policy restrictions that exceed the requirements of international law.” As Luke Hartig recently explained, these Obama-era policy restrictions—particularly those in the well-known 2013 Presidential Policy Guidance (PPG)—are supported by a range of moral, political, and military considerations.  continue »

New Symposium Scholarship on Human Shields

We have covered on these pages the legal and moral issues surrounding the use of human shields in contemporary armed conflict situations. The American Society of International Law, in a new partnership with Cambridge Press, released yesterday its first symposium edition of the American Journal of International Law Unbound, which provides stereoscopic perspectives on this phenomenon, which has become “endemic” in modern warfare.…   continue »

The Troubling Application of the Political Question Doctrine to Congressional Force Authorizations

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Nov. 21 dismissed the suit brought by U.S. Army Captain Nathan Michael Smith challenging the legality of the military campaign against ISIS under Operation Inherent Resolve. The opinion by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly rejecting the suit on political question grounds is troubling.…   continue »

Integrating Iraqi Fighting Forces Is Not Enough to Curb Abuse

Human Rights Watch saw Shia armed forces allied with the Iraqi government commit horrific abuses against the Sunni civilian population during the operation to retake Fallujah back in May. We didn’t want it to happen again in Mosul.

As a result, Human Rights Watch pressed the Iraqi government to keep the abusive units within the Popular Mobilization Forces, also known as Hashd al-Sha’abi, out of the Mosul operation.…   continue »

State Responsibility for Assisting Armed Groups: A Legal Risk Analysis

Last month, the US State Department’s Legal Adviser Brian Egan highlighted one of the most significant legal issues on the horizon: US and coalition forces’ handling of large numbers of ISIL detainees as ISIL-controlled areas are liberated in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere (See Kate Brannen’s Just Security post, “Beyond Gitmo: What is the US Going to Do About the Coming Wave of ISIL Detainees?”).…   continue »

US-led Coalition Needs to Improve ‘Opaque, Ad Hoc’ Process for Reporting Civilian Casualties, New Report Says


President Barack Obama’s July 2016 Executive Order on Civilian Casualties has improved U.S. monitoring and reporting of civilian casualties caused by its airstrikes, but far more transparency is needed, according to a new report from Airwars.

The US-led coalition’s civilian casualty assessment process remains “opaque, ad hoc, and significantly biased towards internal military reporting,” the report says.  continue »