The war on terrorism currently being waged in various parts of the world is, from a legal point of view, a hybrid operation falling within the ambit of several areas of law. The military operations which are part of that war raise questions of international law related to the laws of war.
Legal experts from the academic world, from the world of defence ministries and from the military, gathered in November 2002 in The Hague to seek answers to the challenges reality poses in this respect to the existing body of rules and regulations. This two day conference, entitled 'Terrorism and the Military: international legal implications'’ was hosted by the Netherlands National Group of the International Society for Military Law and the Law of War.
The introductions and discussions centered around three themes:
- Ius ad Bellum, the laws governing the use of force – Following September 11, 2001, the UN Security Council adopted resolutions and discussions particularly focused on Article 51 of the UN Charter: was a case of self-defence at hand here, and what was the relation with the decision of the North Atlantic Council to invoke Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty?
- Ius in Bello, the laws governing the conduct of hostilities – Is the ‘war‘ on terrorism a real war, and is the law of war – including humanitarian law – applicable? Does Al Qaeda belong to a new category of persons: illegal or unlawful combatants? Do they have a status under the law of war, and can they be considered prisoners of war?
- Criminal law – Do we have a definition of (international) terrorism? Do terrorists fall under (national and/or international) criminal law? Is the International Criminal Court competent to play a role? What can be said about the Guantanamo situation?
The present volume contains the proceedings of this highly informative conference, including the discussions, syntheses and an overall conclusion. It may serve as a valuable tool in the further development of views, interpretations and even new rules. The quality and background of the speakers guaranteed a high degree of common sense in the presentation of the existing rules and the suggestions of how to fill the new gaps.