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International Law has become an increasingly active and contested terrain for debates regarding the legitimacy of certain defence policies such as occupation or rendition. As the body of rules and texts regulating the relations of states among themselves, it has stretched to also address relations of states with individuals or with organizations.


Obama's human-rights lacuna in struggle against ‘extremism’

The US president went on the front foot against fundamentalist violence in the Middle East at a summit in Washington. But he was hobbled by his failure to place human rights in the region front and centre.

Settling accounts: what happens after SwissLeaks?

The SwissLeaks scandal around the HSBC bank subsidiary there has highlighted how globalisation can facilitate tax-dodgers. Only a bright spotlight of information can deter them.

Ukraine ceasefire announced at Minsk summit—what next?

The ceasefire agreement in Minsk over Ukraine was better than no outcome at all. But only a little better.

“Frankly, I don’t think we know who we killed”

A drone strike in Somalia highlights how the US is increasingly pursuing a strategy of remote-control warfare.

Blowback: the failure of remote-control warfare

It all seemed so convenient: remote-control warfare would minimise military casualties while rendering the civilian dead invisible. But the battlefield has come home.

Why the fight against Islamic State is not the success we're told it is

Is John Kerry right to be so gung-ho about military successes against Islamic State? Not reallyas the fundamental political challenges in Iraq and Syria remain unaddressed.

In Ukraine, NATO has ceased to be an instrument of US foreign policy

In the renewed cold war over Ukraine, while Russia’s economy has been weakened by European sanctions, the US is no longer the hegemon it once was—and NATO is under strain.

CIA torture programme cast a wide net

The CIA’s ‘deep interrogation’ and the Guantánamo detention camp came to symbolise the US ‘war on terror’. Yet it turns out that most individuals subjected to the first weren’t thought to merit transfer to the second.

Ukraine steels for more unrest as Donetsk bus attack kills 12

The latest violence in eastern Ukraine would lead most observers to think an end to the military and political attrition is not in sight. They would be right.

Dominic Ongwen and the slow-grinding wheels of the International Criminal Court

He may not be a household name but his eventual trial at the ICC may highlight the long-forgotten victims of the conflict in Uganda and beyond involving the Lord’s Resistance Army.

How the US made torture political

The US Senate committee report, far from reinforcing the absolute prohibition against torture, has turned the crime into a dehumanised debate on its purported effectiveness. 

Ethnicised justice and dealing with the past in ex-Yugoslavia

There was much hope in the international community that the Hague war-crimes tribunal on former Yugoslavia, allied to domestic proceedings, could point the region to a reconciled future. It was not to be.

Western Sahara: Africa’s last colony

As 2015 opens, the Sahrawi people of Western Sahara have been waiting for a self-determination referendum for four decades. They will wait longer due to the passivity of the international community. 

Deadly cargo: explosive weapons in populated areas

It’s been a year of searing images of horrifying mass civilian injury and death, from Gaza to eastern Ukraine. The world must set standards to curb resort to weapons with wide-area effects where many civilians are at risk.

Reflections on intervention in the 21st century

Where stands now the ‘responsibility to protect’? Recent egregious intervention failures require simplistic nostra to be replaced by a more complex understanding.

Eastern Ukraine: the humanity behind the headlines

The government in Kyiv, aid organisations and the international community must work together to address the humanitarian crisis created by the fighting in the east.

After the torture report—rebalancing the scales of justice

In the voluminous responses to the long-awaited US Senate committee report on torture by the CIA, the essence of what must follow—prosecutions, not pardons—has been buried.

After the Kenyatta case, how is the ICC to help victims?

The states party to the founding statute of the International Criminal Court must ensure victims of war crimes can receive redressin The Hague or at home.

The International Criminal Court must fix its anti-African image

The International Criminal Court is often presented as "racist" in Africa because of its focus on indictees from the continent. But the problem lies elsewhere.

Drone strikes in Pakistan: laser or blunderbuss?

Attacks by US drones have often been presented as forensic, yet only one in 25 victims in Pakistan were identifiably associated with al-Qaeda.

Starvation as a weapon of war in Syria

Since 1993, there have been calls for the legal and political recognition of starvation as a weapon of war. In Syria, it has regained distressing urgency. 

The failure of the UN: rebuilding from the ruins

Navi Pillay offered a scathing indictment of the UN Security Council's failures to address global crises, most notably in Syria. But the paralysed state of the UN may finally offer the chance to address its inherently undemocratic structure. 

The US' troubling turn as global anti-trafficking sheriff

 The much-lauded US Tier ranking system monitors foreign governments' efforts to combat trafficking. But this obscures the US' role in actually creating conditions which contribute to labor exploitation and trafficking.

In deep water: China tests its neighbours’ patience

China’s rapid growth is placing increasing demands on natural resources in the region but Beijing’s political rise is encouraging the dictatorship to flex its muscles as associated tensions rise.

Uncovering Colombia's systems of macro-criminality

While transitional justice initiatives have traditionally shied away from dismantling the system, Colombia's Justice and Peace Law has taken the first steps towards exposing the political and economic roots of paramilitarism, and the deep state tangled around them. Español.

In Israel, as in Gaza, human rights are the last line of protection

Plain and simple sadness is a natural human reaction to the killing in Gaza. But we are told such emotional reactions must be politically calibrated.

Secret prisons, disappearances and torture

In a ruling described by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as “landmark”, the European Court of Human Rights has passed excoriating judgment on the US “war on terror” following the attacks of 2001.

How Qatar's hand casts Syrian shadows

As Qatar assumes an increasing role in the political diplomacy of the Middle East, its subtler interventions in Syria's civil war continue unquestioned.

The UN privacy report: Five Eyes remains

Will Navi Pillay's defiant stand on privacy be the first step to dismantling the dubious legal frameworks propping up the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing arrangement? 

“Terrorism” and the US-led global order

“Terrorism” has become a formulaic term in political discourse, often deployed as a device sustaining a US informal empire. Time to unpack it—and develop a more secure multilateral order.

Finding cracks in Syria's deadly politics to deliver aid

Humanitarian agencies have renewed support after a rare moment of unity in the UN Security Council regarding cross-border aid delivery into Syria, but face only growing challenges and ethical dilemmas navigating the country's complex conflict lines.  

As Israel-Palestine descends into violence, what should Europe do?

The latest effort by the Israel-aligned US to renegotiate the asymmetric power relationships of the Middle East has inevitably failed, with brutal violence following; it is time, as an alternative, for the EU to generalise the rule-based constraint on Israeli action it has tentatively essayed.

How one man was stripped of his UK citizenship—twice

The UK home secretary has pushed legislation through Parliament which allows her to strip individuals of their citizenship, even if they are rendered stateless—but the case on which she drew turns out to have a Kafkaesque quality.

Pakistan: the decade of drones

Drones may offer an appealing alternative to the US after Iraq and Afghanistan but they don’t provide genuine security.

Droning on

Little is clear about the US renewal of drone strikes in Pakistan—except that they won’t be the last.

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