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The Principles of the Law of Peace Operations: A Practical Framework for Judge Advocates

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The participation of United States military forces in Peace Operations escalated dramatically in the last decade. Commanders and staffs constantly present Judge Advocates with a large variety of legal issues. During an armed conflict, the Judge Advocate can turn to the Law of Armed Conflict or International Humanitarian Law to find many of the answers, or at least some general legal principles to guide the analysis. For a Judge Advocate in a peace operation, the legal structure is not so clear. A variety of laws will apply to U.S. forces during a peace operation. These may include the Law of War, International Human Rights Law, Host Nation Law, and U.S. law and policy. A Judge Advocate on a peace operation will seldom have a legal question with a black and white answer in any of the applicable fields of law. Frequently, an issue may have several diverse possible legal answers, which the attorney must understand and then present in a coherent manner to the commander for a decision. Application of general legal principles for peace operations will help guide the Judge Advocate while conducting a legal analysis of the many issues presented in a peace operation. Currently, no such list of legal principles for peace operations exists. This thesis establishes the backdrop of principles of the Law of War and other non-legal principles for peace operations. There is also a brief discussion of common issues presented to Judge Advocates in recent peace operations in Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo. A list of general legal principles of the Law of Peace Operations is proposed to assist as a guide for future judge advocates on peace operations along with several examples of these principles in action.

Subject Categories:

  • Sociology and Law
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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