'Prisoners' Dilemmas': The Potemkin Villages of International Law?
Leiden Journal of International Law, Vol. 16, p. 467, 2003
24 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2008
Date Written: September 25, 2003
This article, which was published in 2003, sought to explore some of the paradoxes of the humanitarian impulse as it unfolded post 9/11. The outbreak of the 'war against terrorism' provoked a deluge of images. It is uncommon for lawyers to think of the impact of the media on the production of law, yet a specific set of images has had a considerable impact on how legal issues surrounding the use of violence have been framed. The article seeks to explore this novel area by focusing on international humanitarian law and how it deals with the recurring question of prisoners. Some of the distortions the media community imposes on the law are uncovered, but the law's inherent malleability to such distortions is also underlined. The article draws inspiration from David Kennedy in trying to assess the "hidden costs" of humanitarianism, particularly what it obfuscates.
Keywords: international law, prisoners, international humanitarian law, laws of war, guantanamo, critical legal theory, media, images, Afghanistan
JEL Classification: K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation