Go On! IBA Conference ‘Legal Challenges to Modern Warfare,’ The Hague, 30-31 Jan. 2016

The 2016 International Bar Association (IBA) annual conference on international criminal law will focus on “Legal Challenges to Modern Warfare.” The conference will be held in The Hague on 30 and 31 January 2016.

The conference is the second in as many years organized in by the IBA’s War Crimes Committee, which is chaired by UK barristers Jonathan Grimes and Steven Kay QC. Last year’s event—titled “Legal Challenges for 2015”—introduced what has become the overarching theme for this fledgling series, and featured discussions on highly topical issues affecting the global order, such as determining what constitutes aiding and abetting in the context of Islamic State’s financing activities, and the legal aspects of ongoing conflicts in the Crimea, the Middle East and Sri Lanka. The interactive format of the panels, based on the notable BBC political talk show Question Time, spurred lively debates, and drew the audience members in to a conversation they otherwise would have simply watched as observers.

The 2016 conference promises to be just as dynamic, with the organizers adopting the same format, and the choice of a fresh set of timely subject matters. The programme includes panels on targeted missile attacks, and supporting sides in the context of regime change, both directly relevant to the ongoing Syrian conflict, which has seen aerial bombings of ostensibly military or hostile targets by foreign governments, and an unending debate on the international scene over the geo-strategic (if not moral) merits of supporting one side of the conflict over the other(s).

One important panel is scheduled to discuss the contentious topic of peacekeepers’ responsibilities and liabilities, which has caused considerable ink to be spilled not only in academic publications, but in courtrooms and the press as well. Most recently, a decision by a United States District Court, now in appeal, found that the United Nations is immune in a lawsuit filed following a cholera breakout in Haiti alleged to have been caused by its peacekeeping force. This case, coupled with galvanizing leaked reports of sexual misconduct by French peacekeeping forces in Central African Republic, could generate interesting arguments on the legal value of international organization’s privileges and immunities and their duty to provide an appropriate mode of settlement for private law matters.

Other panels will look at new methods of warfare, cyber warfare being one, and the ever-evolving ways of dealing with those who engage in them. The participants at the conference will be treated in any event to a stimulating exchange of ideas and the chance to hear, meet and exchange with some of the top experts in the field.

Online registration and the preliminary conference program are available at: http://goo.gl/tDKE3Q

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