Thursday, August 8, 2019

Not military justice, but . . .

Congratulations to the prolific Professors Geoffrey Corn and Rachel VanLandingham on this read-it-carefully Lawfare piece. Excerpt:
During our most recent annual Transatlantic Dialogue on International Humanitarian Law—a gathering of military, academic and policy experts on the law applicable to armed conflicts held this year at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point—we debated the extent to which the LOAC requires civilian casualty (CIVCAS) reporting and investigation as a method of of civilian risk mitigation i. The gathered experts discussed the function and impact of CIVCAS assessments on the humanitarian and operational imperative of limiting harm to civilians during war. The ensuing discussion mirrored the broader issue itself as it searched for some consensus as to the value and the limits of such assessments, their concomitant resource-intensive investigations, and surrounding publicity. The bottomline of our discussions was that fostering greater awareness of civilian casualties caused by combat operations is generally a normative good and may possibly lead to reduced risk of harm to civilians (despite the lack of empirical data supporting such aspiration). However, such internal and external accounting of civilian casualties must be accompanied by both a feasibility acknowledgment—an appreciation that the extent of such accounting will be based on battlefield practicality, and hence can differ from one operation to the next—as well as by strong contextual checks and balances to avoid unintended perverse consequences.

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