Targeting 'War-Sustaining' Objects in Non-International Armed Conflict

American Journal of International Law, 2016 Volume 110, (Forthcoming)

NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 16-20

20 Pages Posted: 25 May 2016 Last revised: 9 Jun 2016

Ryan Goodman

New York University School of Law

Date Written: June 2016

Abstract

President Obama has embraced what many in the international law community long-regarded as off limits: targeting war-sustaining capabilities, such as the economic infrastructure used to generate revenue for an enemy’s armed forces. Although the weight of scholarly opinion has for years maintained that such objects are not legitimate military targets, the existing literature on this topic is highly deficient. Academic discussion has yet to grapple with some of the strongest and clearest evidence in support of the U.S. view on the legality of such targeting decisions. Indeed, intellectual resources may be better spent not on the question whether such objects are legitimate military targets under the law of armed conflict, but on second-order questions such as how to apply proportionality analysis and how to identify limiting principles to guard against unintentional slippery slopes. In this article, the author discusses the legal pedigree for the Obama Administration’s war-sustaining targeting. The article then turns to identifying some of the most significant second-order questions and how the United States and the international community might begin to address them in ongoing and future armed conflicts.

Keywords: Laws of War, Targeting, war sustaining, petroleum, ISIL, Islamic State, counterterrorism, terrorism, Geneva Conventions, international humanitarian law

JEL Classification: K33, H56

Suggested Citation

Goodman, Ryan, Targeting 'War-Sustaining' Objects in Non-International Armed Conflict (June 2016). American Journal of International Law, 2016 Volume 110, (Forthcoming); NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 16-20. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2783736

Ryan Goodman (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

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