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Lawfare: A War Worth Fighting

9 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2012 Last revised: 23 Oct 2012

Paul R. Williams

American University - Washington College of Law

Date Written: September 11, 2010


Lawfare exists and is used every day by both those seeking to achieve legitimate ends and those seeking to achieve illegitimate ends. Lawfare is a war worth fighting; failing to fight lawfare could seriously jeopardize your client's interests, and, more importantly, it could jeopardize your ability to help bring an end to a violent conflict or prosecute those responsible for crimes committed during a conflict.

There are three similarities between legal mechanisms and processes and warfare that I think support the notion that lawfare is a useful concept. The first is that they often pursue the same objectives; the second is that they have a broadly similar approach for accomplishing these objectives – strategic, operational, and tactical; and the third is that lawfare, as part of a conflict resolution approach, is often times fought before the hot conflict, during the hot conflict, and the hot conflict.

Keywords: lawfare, international law

JEL Classification: N40

Suggested Citation

Williams, Paul R., Lawfare: A War Worth Fighting (September 11, 2010). Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law, Vol. 43, No. 145, 2010. Available at SSRN:

Paul R. Williams (Contact Author)

American University - Washington College of Law ( email )

4300 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

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