Errors and Misconceptions in the 2015 DOD Law of War Manual

42 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2016 Last revised: 14 Jun 2017

See all articles by Jordan J. Paust

Jordan J. Paust

University of Houston Law Center

Date Written: February 10, 2016


This article focuses primarily on several egregious errors and manifest misconceptions contained in portions of Part I of the 2015 Department of Defense Law of War Manual. These generally relate to the unavoidable duty of all members of the Executive branch, including members of the armed forces, to faithfully execute the law; the relationship between the law of war and other forms of international law applicable during armed conflict; applicability and the reach of human rights law during armed conflict; and the nature, reach, and content of customary international law. Also addressed are certain other errors and concerns with respect to statements in other parts of the Manual.

Keywords: armed conflict, bound, CAT, combatant, compensation, customary law, DOD Manual, dum-dum, expanding bullet, human right, IAC, ICCPR, jus cogens, Kosovo, law of war, lex specialis, military necessity, NIAC, Paquete, persistent objector, UN Charter, unnecessary suffering, war, war crime

Suggested Citation

Paust, Jordan J., Errors and Misconceptions in the 2015 DOD Law of War Manual (February 10, 2016). 26 Minnesota Journal of International Law 303 (2017), U of Houston Law Center No. 2016-A-30, Available at SSRN: or

Jordan J. Paust (Contact Author)

University of Houston Law Center ( email )

4604 Calhoun Road
Houston, TX 77204-6060
United States

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