Paper: Is the U.S. Undermining International Humanitarian Law?

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Date: 
February 4, 2013

Often treating standards found in international law as an inconvenience and impediment since 9/11, the United States is undermining the foundations upon which international humanitarian law (IHL) rests, according to a November 2012 paper by Morris Davis of Howard University.  Undermining International Humanitarian Law examines the development and the objectives of modern IHL, particularly the ones designed to limit the effects of war on civilians and other non-combatants. He argues that the U.S.’ failure to continue to meet these humanitarian obligations over the last decade is weakening the country’s legal and moral authority, and argues that the U.S. should reaffirm its commitment to IHL to achieve its goal of peace and security.

“Since 9/11, the United States has disparaged and disregarded international agreements it helped create, crafted novel legal arguments in an effort to avoid application of laws it suddenly found inconvenient, redefined terms to fit its own purposes, and hid behind a curtain of secrecy whenever anyone challenged it,” Davis writes. “Are those American values the nation wants to hold up as examples to the world?”