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“What is Lawfare?”

Here is a site on a topic that is of much interest to me – The Lawfare Project:

What is Lawfare?

Lawfare: The Use of the Law as a Weapon of War

Lawfare denotes the use of the law as a weapon of war, or more specifically, the abuse of the law and legal systems for strategic political or military ends.

The Lawfare Project’s concentration is on the negative manipulation of laws to achieve a purpose other than, or contrary to that for which those laws were originally enacted.

The scope of the Lawfare Project’s focus is on lawfare as it is used (via the Western legal system, nationally and internationally) to:

   1. Thwart free speech about issues of national security and public concern,
   2. De-legitimize the sovereignty of democratic states, and
   3. Frustrate the ability of democracies to defend themselves against terrorism.

The primary goals of the Lawfare Project are: (i) To raise awareness about the phenomenon (and specific instances) of lawfare assuring the subject matter receive the credibility and immediacy that it warrants, (ii) facilitate (legal and non-legal) responses to the perversion and misapplication of international & national human rights law, (iii) identify and mobilize human and institutional resources, and (iv) bring diverse and interested parties together in a common forum to discuss the threat.

Lawfare’s central issues:

    * What legal limits should be placed on those who fight the war against terrorism and what rights should be granted to the terrorists we are fighting?
    *What role, if any, does international law play in the determination of a sovereign state’s ability to act within and without its territory?
    *Where does the power of a state end and the power of an international court or tribunal begin?
    *What consists of incitement to immediate violence and what is legitimate criticism of religion? Should hate speech be outlawed?
    *When an international tribunal displays political or other bias in its deliberations, is the state’s sovereign control abrogated?
    *Does the Universal Jurisdiction trend go against our national security interests? If Universal Jurisdiction is a concept that should be retained, what limits should be applied?
    *From where do courts in Spain and the Netherlands derive the authority to unilaterally grant themselves universal jurisdiction and the power to adjudicate over other nation-states?
    *To what extent must classified material be released to protect the rights of terrorists that allege torture? Where should terrorists and unlawful combatants be tried and imprisoned and under what law? Must the “underwear bomber” be read his Miranda rights?
    *Should a United Nations voting bloc comprised largely of undemocratic member states dictate international human rights norms?
    *What is the source of the bias evident in many human rights reports and in certain tribunals?

Case examples of Lawfare:

    *Al Qaeda manuals that instruct captured militants to file claims of torture in order to reposition themselves as victims in the eyes of the law and media.
    *Attempts by terrorist entities such as Hamas to impede the free movement of democratic state officials and achieve legitimacy by hiring lawyers and instituting “human rights” litigation abroad.
    *Efforts at the United Nations to exclude attacks on civilians from any international definition of the crime of terrorism, so long as the civilians are citizens of what is termed an “occupying power.”
    *Predatory defamation and “hate speech” lawsuits filed against anyone who speaks publicly about radical Islam, terrorism and its sources of financing.
    *Unilateral determinations of local/national courts to exert universal jurisdiction over heads of states, charging war crimes, including efforts to charge Israeli and US government officials with war crimes in the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Spain.
    *The International Court of Justice’s ruling on the legality of Israel’s security barrier, which pointedly ignored the fact that the barrier contributed to a sharp decline in terrorism attacks, and when it was unclear whether the court had jurisdiction to consider the issue in the first place.
    *The lack of legal accountability demanded of theocratic states that recruit their own children as suicide bombers and child soldiers.
    * The resurgence of international and national blasphemy laws (at the United Nations and in Europe.)

Check it out.

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3 Responses

  1. I remember you pioneering this idea — congrats on recognition of it spreading!

  2. I can’t take credit for it. I cribbed it from a small idea from the book “Unrestricted Warfare” by those PRC Colonels. That book has was a major influence on my thinking especially on what 4GW and 5GW could be.

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