Lawfare and Armed Conflict: Comparing Israeli and US Targeted Killing Policies and Challenges Against Them | Research Report
Research Report | January 2013
Lawfare and Armed Conflict: Comparing Israeli and US Targeted Killing Policies and Challenges Against Them by Lisa Hajjar
The term lawfare, an amalgamation of “law” and “warfare,” is used in reference to various kinds of legal challenges to state policies and practices in the realm of national security. Unsurprisingly, it has a negative connotation among those who oppose efforts to legally constrain state prerogatives, to fetter the discretion of officials in their pursuit of national security goals, and to pursue accountability for violations. This article engages the concept of lawfare to focus comparatively on legal contestations over Israeli and US policies and practices in their twentyfirst century armed conflicts, the second intifada and the global “war on terror,” respectively. Part I traces the contemporary relationship between law and conflict, and political debates arising from these developments. In order to name a phenomenon integral to evolving uses of law, I use “state lawfare” to describe the ways in which government officials construct interpretative edifices to project the lawfulness of policies that deviate from international interpretations of international humanitarian law (IHL). Part II focuses on state lawfare efforts by both governments to assert the legality of their targeted killing policies. Part III addresses legal challenges to Israeli and US targeted killing as exemplary of lawfare.