Law, Ethics and Conflict
This stream focuses on legal and ethical questions related to conflict, conflict prevention and postconflict situations. It combines research which is interested in international law, international humanitarian law and international human rights law with research on just war theory (JWT) and focuses on the challenges these legal and ethical frameworks face in response to changing political scales, spaces and participants as conflict diversifies away from inter-state violence.
Drawing on law and political theory, key questions include:
The Use of Force in International Law and Jus ad bellum
- When may states resort to military force in response to cyber attacks, piracy, terrorism, transnational criminality and other non-traditional actions?
- What limits does international law or JWT place on acting in anticipatory self-defence?
- How is jus ad bellum affected by the challenges of inter-communal ethics?
- What is the relationship between Security Council action in the face of a threat to the peace, breach of peace or act of aggression and the inherent right of self-defence?
When can the actions of non-state actors, such as terrorists or insurgents, be attributed to states such that a response may be legally directed at the state itself?
International Humanitarian Law and Jus in bello
- When do terrorism, counterterrorism or internal hostilities fall under IHL and/or JWT?
- How is IHL operationalised by armed forces in the field? How effective are such efforts?
- How is the jus in bello framework affected by the challenges of inter-communal ethics?
- To what extent are mechanisms such as the International Criminal Court shaping IHL beyond the control of states?
Is the role of IHL as a limitation on methods and means of warfare being supplanted by political and operational considerations (e.g. counterinsurgency doctrine)?
International Human Rights Law
- To what extent have (post)-conflict issues affected the substantive content of IHRL?
- To what extent do international, domestic, and hybrid legal regimes provide an adequate judicial response to human rights violations committed by prior regimes?
To what extent has conflict, rather than persecution, become the motivation for forced migration? How has this affected the international legal regime for refugees?
Law and Reconstruction
- What is the international legal framework for large-scale international involvement in postconflict reconstruction?
What is the status of the emerging right to democracy in post-conflict situations?
Areas of expertise in this research stream include:
- European and International Human Rights law; Transitional Justice; International Refugee law (Dr James Sweeney)
- Intelligence accountability; the Human Rights of Armed Forces Personnel (Prof Ian Leigh)
- International institutional law and settlement of conflicts (Ms Aoife O'Donoghue)
- Law and post-conflict reconstruction (Dr Matt Saul)
- Just war theory in contemporary conflict (Prof John Williams)