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The War on Terror and the Laws of WarA Military Perspective$
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Geoffrey S. Corn, James A. Schoettler, Jr., Dru Brenner-Beck, Victor M. Hansen, Dick Jackson, Eric Talbot Jensen, and Michael W. Lewis

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199941452

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199941452.001.0001

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Triggering the Law of Armed Conflict?

Triggering the Law of Armed Conflict?

2 Triggering the Law of Armed Conflict?
The War on Terror and the Laws of War

Geoffrey S. Corn

Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses the conditions that bring the law of armed conflict into force: the critical predicate for a nation to assert the broad authority inherent in situations of armed conflict and for individuals to claim the humanitarian protections of the law. The chapter will explain why the initial U.S. interpretation of the widely accepted law-triggering equation generated such criticism and controversy, and how that interpretation deviated from long-standing U.S. military policy. The chapter will then explain why national authorities abandoned this initial interpretation, but also why this abandonment in no way eliminated controversy related to characterizing the struggle against al-Qaeda as a legitimate justification for exercising the authority to use wartime powers to disrupt and disable this transnational terrorist threat.

Keywords:   jus in bello, Geneva Conventions, common article 2, common article 3, Tadic, organized armed groups, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, noninternational armed conflict, international armed conflict

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