The Status of Detainees from the Iraq and Afghanistan Conflicts

57 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2005

See all articles by Srividhya Ragavan

Srividhya Ragavan

Texas A&M University School of Law

Michael S. Mireles

University of the Pacific - McGeorge School of Law


The paper is premised on the idea that the future course of international law will be impacted by the United States' ability to adhere to international treaties to which it is a signatory. Hence, the current administration bears a responsibility to avoid unwisely stretching, distorting, or avoiding the principles of international law for short-term gain in a manner that jeopardizes long-term sustainable policy. The United States should be wary of creating a dangerous precedent - not only for the world, but for itself. If the United States shirks from or misinterprets international legal principles, it leaves the forum open for other nations to avoid their responsibilities under international law. Similarly, the exceptions created by the United States to the applicability of the Geneva Conventions may be detrimental to the interests of United States military personnel in future conflicts.

With this background, this Article focuses on the legal status of the detainees from Afghanistan and Iraq under the Geneva Conventions. The Article examines the Geneva Conventions' applicability to the war on terror and outlines the Convention status of the detainees. Secondarily, this Article reviews the restrictions against torture under the Convention on Torture and the Geneva Conventions. Further, the article analyzes whether the United States' alleged treatment of detainees of the war on terror violates the Geneva Conventions, the Convention on Torture, and customary international law. The article concludes that the United States' application of international conventions to the detainees of the war on terror threatens not only to jeopardize respect for the international rule of law, but to reduce its standing in the international community and to endanger its own military personnel captured by an enemy in future conflicts.

Keywords: Geneva convention, torture, Iraq, Afghanistan, international law

JEL Classification: K3

Suggested Citation

Ragavan, Srividhya and Mireles, Michael S., The Status of Detainees from the Iraq and Afghanistan Conflicts. Utah Law Review, No. 2, pp. 619-675, 2005, Available at SSRN:

Srividhya Ragavan (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University School of Law ( email )

1515 Commerce Street
Fort Worth, TX 76102
United States

Michael S. Mireles

University of the Pacific - McGeorge School of Law ( email )

3200 Fifth Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95817
United States

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