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IHL Desk

Dr. Daphné Richemond-BarakThe ICT’s International Humanitarian Law Desk:

  • Brings the ICT’s knowledge to the broader legal community
  • Enhances awareness and understanding of humanitarian law among counter-terrorism experts

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.


New Battlefields/Old Laws: An Oxford-Union Debate on the Future of the Authorization for Use of Military Force as part of the ICT’s 14th Annual International Conference:World Summit on Counter-Terrorism: Terrorism's Global Impact 

President: Laurie Blank
Motion to be debated: "This House believes that the 2001 AUMF should be amended to authorize force against future terrorist threats."
Speaking in favor of the motion: Professor Nathan Sales, Syracuse University College of Law
Speaking against the motion: Professor Jennifer Daskal, American University Washington College of Law

Relevant links:

Opinio Juris Blog: ‘New Battlefields, Old Laws’ – Debate on the Future of the 2001 AUMF

IHLToday - The Operationalization of Iinternational Humanitarian Law

New Battlefields, Old Laws - From the Hague Convention to Asymmetric Warfare

Geneva Convention

Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech


The Irony of the Iron Dome: Intelligent Defense Systems, Law, and Security

28/06/2016 | by Richemond-Barak, Daphné (Dr.)

International law does not directly address intelligent defense systems (IDSs), of which Israel’s Iron Dome embodies the most successful implementation to date. This Article argues that international humanitarian law (“IHL”) should encourage the development and use of systems like Iron Dome by conceptualizing such systems as civil defense.

Written by Daphné Richemond-Barak and Ayal Feinberg
Published in the Harvard National Security Journal 

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Is Money a Legitimate Target?

10/02/2016 | by Richemond-Barak, Daphné (Dr.)

Last month, the United States targeted a “cash distribution site” where millions of dollars belonging to ISIS had reportedly been stored. The target was considered so valuable that it would have justified a high number of civilian casualties (rumors say that the magic number was 50). Yet, the determination of whether money is civilian or military in nature, assuming this test is even relevant, is not as straightforward as it seems.

First published in Just Security

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Counter-terrorism conference simulates responses to impending ISIS terror attack in Europe

12/09/2015 | by Lappin, Yaakov

Players simulating Belgian decision makers chose to arrest terrorists on Belgian soil rather than order air strike in Syria.

Published in the Jerusalem Post

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The Threat of Foreign Terrorist Fighters

10/09/2015 | by ICT Staff
New Battlefields, Old Laws: From the Hague Conventions to Asymmetric Warfare
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Tunnel Vision at the UN

29/07/2015 | by Richemond-Barak, Daphné (Dr.)

A year has passed since Israel and Gaza last went to war but one of the war's most important lessons has yet to be learned.  In its much anticipated report on last summer's Operation Protective Edge, a commission appointed by the UN Human Rights Council virtually ignored the main precipitant and tactical breakthrough of the war: underground warfare.

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