We write at (yet another) time of crisis: the April 2018 strikes on Syria show that we are unlikely to become purely a journal of legal history (not that we would be averse to being one). In the papers that we have put in this issue of the Journal, we have strived to ensure coverage of the areas that the Journal covers, such as the jus ad bellum, the jus in bello, arms control, collective security, peacekeeping and international criminal law. We begin with Teimori and Subedi’s important analysis of what went wrong with the Libya intervention, the questions it raised and what can be learnt from it, in particular to the controversial and contested concept of the Responsibility to Protect. Given recent developments, the relevance of those lessons needs hardly to be set out by us. Next, we have Henricksen’s paper on the 2017 strikes on Syria by the USA and the legality of using force to enforce the Law of Armed Conflict/Arms Control law, in particular both the treaty based on customary prohibition of chemical weapons. Given the events of April 2018, these could not be more current, and the fact that the USA did not really trouble itself to issue a legal explanation of their basis for those strikes is a worrying development. Whether one agrees with positions articulated or not, the absence of such an engagement by the Trump administration is unwelcome. After this, we have (because we do like legal history, and would encourage submissions on point) Basrsalou’s paper on the influence of the USA on the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Whilst the Conventions are now treated as canonical, it is important to remember that, like all treaties, they were the product of political negotiations, which did not always reflect purely humanitarian concerns, but historical and ideological ones. These issues also arose in the negotiations of the Additional Protocols of 1977, and, inter alia, for example the Rome negotiations for the Statute of the International Criminal Court. Owing to the Journal’s interest in collective (or non-collective) security, we have Hofer’s paper on the sanctions that the USA unilaterally imposed on Russia in relation to the situation in Ukraine. Like the Syrian strikes, such measures raise truly important issues of international law, and the means by which, and by whom, some fundamental rules of international law are enforced. From here, we move on to Grimal’s paper on autonomous weapons, a matter which has moved from the realm of science fiction to reality. The issues that autonomous weapons, and the extent to which responsibility can, or does, exist for their employment is one which calls for clear and thoughtful legal (and moral) analysis, and so we are glad to be able to include a paper that contributes to these debates in a careful manner. Our final article in this issue of the Journal takes the debate, quite literally out of the stratosphere, dealing with the fact that the three dominant world powers, the USA, China and Russia are increasingly looking at using outer space as a military place. Developments in technology have rendered this a possibility, but the international legal regime as it stands is not necessarily up to the task of regulating it, as it is important to look forward, as well as back. We hope that the papers we have brought forward in this issue of the Journal provoke both thought and debate, and we encourage further contributions on any of these issues. The Editors © Oxford University Press 2018; All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: email@example.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
Journal of Conflict and Security Law – Oxford University Press
Published: May 11, 2018
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