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Fighting at the Legal BoundariesControlling the Use of Force in Contemporary Conflict$
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Kenneth Watkin

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190457976

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190457976.001.0001

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States, “Proper Authority,” and Conflict

States, “Proper Authority,” and Conflict

(p.91) 4 States, “Proper Authority,” and Conflict
Fighting at the Legal Boundaries

Kenneth Watkin

Oxford University Press

This chapter deals with the significant impact the just war principle of “proper authority” has on the international law governing armed conflict. It establishes that the State authority to maintain order and participate in conflict mandates the consideration of human rights norms during non-State actor conflict. Further, the impact of the criminalization of groups acting outside State authority permeates international and noninternational armed conflict. The chapter discusses the linkage between State governance and human rights. A State reluctance to have humanitarian law regulate internal hostilities frequently leaves domestic and human rights law as the normative framework of choice for resolving non-State actor challenges to its governance role. The approach by some States to apply humanitarian law on international operations as a matter of policy is also explored. Finally, this chapter looks at the challenge of “ungoverned spaces” where non-State actors thrive and often present the greatest threat to recognized States.

Keywords:   statehood, armed conflict, noninternational armed conflict, human rights, humanitarian law, combatants, unlawful combatants, just war principle, ungoverned spaces

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