Does Lawfare Need an Apologia?

17 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2010

Date Written: September 10, 2010


Few concepts in international law are more controversial than lawfare. This essay contends that lawfare is best appreciated in the context of its original meaning as ideologically neutral description of how law might be used in armed conflict. It emphasizes that although law may be manipulated by some belligerents for nefarious purposes, it can still serve to limit human suffering in war. In discussing the current state of the concept of lawfare, the essay reviews several contentious areas, and recognizes the concerns of critics. The paper concludes that lawfare is still a useful term, and is optimized when it is employed consistent with its original purpose of communicating to non-specialists how law might be used as a positive good in modern war as a substitute for traditional arms.

Keywords: Lawfare, International Law, Law of Armed Conflict, International Humanitarian Law, Drones, Remotely-Piloted Vehicles, Goldstone Report

Suggested Citation

Dunlap, Charles James, Does Lawfare Need an Apologia? (September 10, 2010). Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Charles James Dunlap (Contact Author)

Duke University School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States
919613-7233 (Phone)

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