This workshop brought together approximately twenty international law experts and practitioners to thoroughly discuss and debate the law governing where belligerents may conduct hostilities during armed conflict, with particular focus on Non-International Armed Conflict (NIAC) and territories of non-belligerent states. This topic is at the crossroads of many unsettled or ambiguous areas of international law, including characterization of conflict; thresholds of armed conflict; status of non-state actors/organized armed groups; state responsibility and the “unable or unwilling” standard; the immediacy criterion of self-defense; applicability of human rights law; and others. The end state of the workshop was that the participants have significantly furthered the research on this important international law topic and the International Law Department (ILD) has published a professional resource volume containing a detailed report of the workshop and scholarly articles on various specialized areas of the topic.
This workshop supported the U.S. Naval War College’s mission to help the CNO define the future Navy and its roles and missions. The current ambiguity of international law presents an operational and strategic challenge to U.S. forces facing organized armed groups operating out of safe havens or uncontrolled sanctuaries in belligerent states.