Human Rights Month: Rules of Detention in Non-International Armed Conflicts: an Update on the Current Debates

Tuesday, June 4, 2013
12:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
American University Washington College of Law
4801 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington DC
Room 603



Daniel Cahen, Legal Advisor to the ICRC's Regional Delegation for the US and Canada

William Lietzau, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Rule of Law and Detainee Policy)

Andrea Prasow, Senior Counterterrorism Counsel and Advocate, US Program US Counterterrorism, Human Rights Watch

Bruce Oswald, Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow, U.S. Institute of Peace

Moderator: Bob Goldman, Professor of Law, American University

Although the law applicable to international armed conflicts contains detailed and comprehensive rules on internment for security reasons, the law applicable to non-international armed conflicts remains silent on many aspects related to such internment. Continuous discussionson the scope of armed conflict and international humanitarian law (IHL) applicable rules in the context of the “war on terror” have brought this issue to the forefront of the debate. At the core of this debate remains the interplay between IHLand human rights law and the challenges that the relationship between these two sets of norms poses when applied to a conflict situation. Even if internment is accepted as an inevitable and lawful incidence of armed conflict, the procedural safeguards that must be ensured to those deprived of liberty in a non-international armed conflict remain a matter of legal debate. In November 2011, the ICRC was given a mandate to explore ways to strengthen the legal protections accorded to persons deprived of liberty in non-international armed conflicts. To that end, the ICRC has started a consultative process with States. The Copenhagen Process on the Handling of Detainees in International Military Operations, which recently adopted the Copenhagen Process Principles and Guidelines, is another example of the willingness of the international community to find a consensus on standards applicable to the treatment of detainees. In parallel, it is also worth noting that the U.S. Department of Defense is currently carrying its own lessons-learned process following the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The experts in this panel will explore the underpinnings of these various processes and debate on whetherthe adoption of new IHL rules is essential for regulating detention in non-international armed conflicts.


Presented by the Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law






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