The ‘God Gap’ in International Humanitarian Law: Lessons Learned from Islamic Jurisprudence
60 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2012 Last revised: 6 Mar 2012
Date Written: January 1, 2012
This essay bridges security and legal studies to show how contemporary debate over humanitarian legal norms today in both Islamic and international law traditions is a response to tectonic shifts in global conflict patterns now occurring in the post-9/11 security environment. If these shifts have helped raise these legal norms and their gaps to new heights of global discussion, this reflexive moment is overwhelmingly positive — provided that such attention, particularly in the Islamic context, is framed in ways adequate to the complexity of our changing international security environment. While it may sound facile to point out the obvious, that we are no longer living in a post-World War or even post-Cold War world, the fact of the matter is that both legal regimes are playing a role, albeit for different audiences, in reframing international security questions today — with implications for national and international security policies. This transnational role, as legal historian Wael Hallaq notes, is and has always been a distinctive feature of law in the Islamic tradition. The result is not only a commonality, but a symmetry to the challenges these legal regimes embody today: heightened interest in humanitarian law is, at bottom, a means to bring into discussion new and changing ethical standards to bear on new species of armed conflict.
Keywords: International humanitarian law, laws of armed conflict, Islamic law, sharia, security studies, legal studies, interdisciplinary analysis, policy recommendations
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation