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International Humanitarian Law Desk

The International Humanitarian Law Desk is focused on understanding and applying the laws of war to an ever-changing globalized battlefield.

The fight against terrorism challenges military strategy, calls for new technology, and imposes unprecedented burdens on intelligence gathering. On this increasingly complex and wide battlefield, states have had to contend with a diffuse enemy acting in blunt violation of the laws of war.

The laws of war, which govern primarily the conduct of states in time of war, have struggled to adapt to this new battlefield. At the time the laws were drafted, non-state actors only played a peripheral role in war, with states acting as protagonists. Today, non-state actors take part in war as full-fledged belligerents, often making non-compliance their sole modus operandi. Though the enemy does not abide by the law, states fighting terror have pledged to continue to apply it – for a combination of moral, legal, and political reasons.

The ICT’s International Humanitarian Law Desk seeks to understand and research the application of the laws of war to the fight against terror. Regardless of whether one understands international law or believes in its importance, modern wars can no longer be fought, let alone won, in disregard of this body of law. This new battlefield weighs heavily on the public’s perception of the legitimacy of states’ actions, and, as such, must form an integral part of states’ strategy and policy.

Dr. Daphne Richemond Barak

Head of Desk

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