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Edited by International Law Department

Minelaying and the Impediment of Passage Rights
Wolff Heintschel von Heinegg
Since their first extensive use in the 1904–05 Russo-Japanese War naval mines have continued to pose a considerable threat to innocent shipping. States reacted by adopting the 1907 Hague Convention VIII, which has been the only international instrument on the matter to date. In view of the fact that more than 80 percent of imports and exports are shipped by sea, freedom of navigation and, in particular, transit and archipelagic sea lanes passage rights must be preserved to the greatest extent possible. The present article deals with the question of whether international rules and principles provide effective protection of international shipping by prohibiting or restricting the laying of naval mines that impede passage rights in times of international armed conflict, as well as in times of peace or crisis.

1907 Hague Convention VIII Relative to the Laying of Automatic Submarine Contact Mines
Steven Haines
This article places 1907 Hague Convention VIII in its historical context, examines its content, summarizes State practice since 1907 (including during the two World Wars) and discusses the Convention’s relevance to contemporary mine warfare. The Convention has inherent shortcomings, has never been strictly applicable in any war since 1907, and is not strictly relevant to anything other than automatic contact mines (effectively excluding modern influence mines). Despite this—and a paucity of substantial State practice since 1945—the conclusion is that the Convention has influenced the customary law on sea-mines. When that custom was combined with other relevant custom (particularly that pertaining to the peacetime law of the sea) during the San Remo Manual process, the result was an extremely useful guide to what would probably be acceptable in relation to mine warfare. There is now evidence that the San Remo Manual mine warfare articles are themselves becoming accepted as custom.

Beyond Hague VIII: Other Legal Limits on Naval Mine Warfare
David Letts
Legal texts and scholarly articles that deal with the topic of naval mine warfare typically do so by reference to Hague Convention VIII of 1907 and customary international law. Little comment, if any, is usually made in relation to the variety of other legal regimes that might impact upon the use of naval mines in armed conflict. This article seeks to redress that imbalance by examining, with a focus on the jus in bello, a range of legal considerations arising from more contemporary sources that affect the use of naval mines in international armed conflict.

The Law Applicable to Naval Mine Warfare in a Non-International Armed Conflict
Rob McLaughlin
There are very few instruments and very few cases, which describe how the law in relation to naval mine warfare applies within non-international armed conflict contexts. Additionally, since 1945, there has been relatively limited State practice. Working out what the law applicable to naval mine warfare in NIAC situations might look like today thus requires some recourse to the pre-World War II scheme designed to accommodate and characterize maritime activity by rebels, insurgents, and belligerents in conflict with their State. This article proposes for discussion a set of “rules” that attempt to incorporate and update elements of this customary scheme within the confines of modern LOAC and law of the sea.

Chatham House Workshop Summary: International Law Applicable to Naval Mines
This report summarizes the workshop held on February 26–27, 2014 on the law governing the use of naval mines in times of both peace and war. The workshop, organized by Chatham House, the Royal Navy and U.S. Naval War College, brought together a group of international law scholars, operational lawyers and other legal experts in the field. The objective of the workshop was to clarify existing law and identify areas of legal uncertainty to assist States to conduct their operations lawfully.

Targeting "Islamic State" Oil Facilities
Kenneth Watkin
In September 2014 the United States and Coalition partners conducted aerial attacks against several Islamic State-operated modular oil refineries in Syria. The Pentagon’s rationale is that the refineries provided fuel for Islamic State operations, money to finance continued attacks and constituted an economic asset to support future operations. Attacking the oil production facilities to stop the sale of smuggled oil, the proceeds of which “fuel” Islamic State activities is potentially controversial. Additional Protocol I limits attacks to those objects that “make an effective contribution to military action.” The U.S. position is that “war-sustaining objects” may also be lawfully targeted, thus including a much broader justification for the use of force. The article examines the issue of where to draw the line between objects being struck and the military activity of the Islamic State, as well as a number of other targeting issues.

Military Activities in the Exclusive Economic Zone: East Asia Focus
Raul (Pete) Pedrozo
In August 2014, a Chinese fighter aggressively intercepted a U.S. Navy surveillance plane over the South China Sea. This incident once again raises the issue of the legality of conducting military activities in and over the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) without coastal State notice or consent. All nations have a right under international law to conduct military activities in foreign EEZs. The article discusses the legal bases for conducting these activities and reviews some of the more prominent arguments used by States that purport to regulate such activities in the EEZ. It concludes that the right to engage in military activities in the EEZ is consistent with international law, both customary and conventional, as well as State practice.

The United States' Position on the Extraterritorial Application of Human Rights Obligations: Now is the Time for Change
Beth Van Schaack
This article contends that in the upcoming Human Rights Committee proceedings, the U.S. should abandon the categorical argument that its human rights obligations do not apply extraterritorially in favor of a more nuanced approach that reflects the majority position reached by the range of human rights treaty bodies and courts as well as the legal framework applicable to our coalition partners and other allies. The U.S. failure to acknowledge limited, well-established, and principled exceptions to a strictly territorial application of its human rights obligations ultimately undermines the legitimacy of other, more efficacious, arguments at its disposal—such as its position on IHL as the lex specialis in situations of armed conflicts and well-developed justifications for its actions on the merits—as well as its commitment to the human rights system more broadly.

Identifying the Enemy in Counterterrorism Operations - A Comparison of the Bush and Obama Administrations
Boaz Ganor
Identifying the enemy plays a crucial role in providing the government with the authority needed to fight terrorism—from the authority to investigate threats to the authority to detain and use lethal force. The two administrations significantly differ in their understanding of the enemy, both at the organizational and individual levels. They also differ in their understanding of the boundaries of the battlefield. Ultimately, contrasting the policies adopted by the Bush and Obama administrations reveals that the early identification of the enemy by decision makers shaped the nature and scope of each administration’s counterterrorism strategies.

Modern Maritime Neutrality Law
James Farrant
This article is a fundamental reappraisal of the rules of maritime neutrality, including blockade, contraband and maritime zones. It is one of the most comprehensive reassessments of this area of the law since R. W. Tucker's seminal work in this publication in 1955. As well as defining and stating the rules of maritime neutrality, the piece offers recommendations for future development of the law which drafters of State law of armed conflict manuals may wish to consider.

The Legality and Implications of Intentional Interference with Commercial Communication Satellite Signals
Sarah M. Mountin
Commercial communication satellite signals have become increasingly attractive targets for intentional interference by State and non-State actors. This article discusses the law applicable to satellite signal interference in peacetime, as well as during armed conflict. Specifically, the piece discusses the threshold at which intentional interference may constitute a use of force.

The Bull in the China Shop: Raising Tensions in the Asia-Pacific Region
Raul (Pete) Pedrozo
This paper examines the legality of China's recent endeavors to change the status quo in the Asia-Pacific region, specifically with respect to the announcement of an ADIZ over the East China Sea. The piece concludes with recommendations for potential U.S. responses.

Charting the Legal Geography of Non-International Armed Conflict
Michael N. Schmitt
This article examines the geographical reach of international humanitarian law (law of armed conflict), particularly during armed conflicts between States and non-State organized armed groups. The issue is operationally critical, since to the extent that IHL applies, practices which are lawful during armed conflicts, such as status-based targeting, may be employed. When IHL does not apply, human rights obligations shouldered by the State govern the conduct of its military operations. The article surveys the various approaches to the the legal geography of non-international armed conflict, arguing that an interpretation by which IHL is not geographically restricted is the most supportable.

Adapting the Law of Armed Conflict to Autonomous Weapon Systems
Kenneth Anderson, Daniel Reisner and Matthew Waxman
As increasingly automated—and in some cases fully autonomous—weapon systems enter the battlefield or become possible, it is important that international norms to regulate them head down a path that is coherent and practical. Contrary to the claims of some advocates, autonomous weapon systems are not inherently illegal or unethical. The technologies involved potentially hold promise for making armed conflict more discriminating and causing less harm on the battlefield. They do pose great challenges, however, with regard to law of armed conflict rules regulating the use of weapons. To adapt existing law to meet those challenges, we propose a three-tiered approach to emerging autonomous weapon technologies.

Mind the Gap: Can Developers of Autonomous Weapons Systems be Liable for War Crimes?
Tim McFarland and Tim McCormack
A recurrent response to the development of increasingly autonomous weapons systems involves questions of accountability for serious violations of the law of armed conflict. Opinion is divided across a spectrum ranging from claims of an accountability vacuum and consequent calls for a complete ban to assertions that the weapons will present no new challenges and that the existing legal framework is capable of adaptation to emerging technologies. This article focuses on the expanded role played by developers of autonomous weapons systems. It describes the novel contributions made by developers of these advanced systems that raise the potential for them to be held accountable for violations of the law; outlines the most likely modes of criminal responsibility; and discusses the complexities of existing statute and case law which may present significant obstacles to establishing developer liability.

Autonomous Weapons and International Humanitarian Law: Advantages, Open Technical Questions and Legal Issues to be Clarified
Marco Sassoli
This contribution argues that autonomous weapons systems may have advantages from the perspective of ensuring better respect for international humanitarian law (IHL). This may be the case if they are one day capable of perceiving the information necessary to comply with IHL, can apply IHL to that information, and if it can be ensured that they will not deviate from the ways in which humans have programmed them. In the view of the author, targeting decisions do not require subjective value judgments a machine would be unable to make. In order to ensure IHL is respected with regard to use of autonomous systems, agreement must be reached on how to interpret certain IHL rules properly when a machine executes autonomous attacks according to parameters established by human beings.