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The United States does not have a federal policy or strategy document on the protection of civilians. Instead, elements of relevant policy can be found across a range of government documents issued over the past decade. In general, the US tends to address the issue at the national level through the prism of ‘civilian harm mitigation’, which suggests a more limited and legalistic approach than the broad concept of protection of civilians.
This chapter introduces the debates regarding the development of jus ad bellum, with a particular focus on the development of the definition of force and the right to self-defence. It discusses the relationship between the rules of the UN Charter and customary international law, and the way in which development of custom, as well as debates amongst other international actors, contribute to the dynamic interpretation of the Charter rules.
This chapter examines quasi-covert conduct, that is, acts that are acknowledged and justified in part; hypothetical justifications not related to an acknowledgement of actual conduct; and acts that are acknowledged or justified after some time. Focusing primarily on the United States’ drone strikes in Pakistan under the Obama administration, it is demonstrated how quasi-covert operations pose significant challenges to the development of international law by creating uncertainty as to the way in which specific conduct may alter international law, and as to when states need to react in order to avoid their silence being interpreted as acquiescence.
This book explores how best to recalibrate our understanding of international lawmaking through the lens of increased reporting and legal debate around covert and quasi-covert uses of force. Recent changes in practice and communication call for closer attention to be paid to the requirement of publicity for state practice, since they challenge the perception of the concepts 'public' and 'covert', and thus raise questions as to the impact that covert and quasi-covert acts do and should have on the development of international law. It is argued that, in order to qualify as such practice, acts must be both publicly known and acknowledged. The book further examines how state silence around covert and quasi-covert operations has opened up significant space for legal scholars and other experts to influence the development of international law.
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