Dr David Rodin & Professor Jennifer Welsh, Institute for Ethics, Law & Armed Conflict
Abstract: This interdisciplinary seminar will investigate how the moral and legal conception of human rights impacts the regulation of armed conflict. Just War Theory and the Laws of Armed Conflict were largely developed independently of modern conceptions of human rights, and both contain provisions that are at striking variance to the way that human rights are interpreted in non-war contexts. Philosophers have argued that human rights will require us to radically reconfigure traditional ways of thinking about the norms and rules that govern armed conflict. Can legal and moral norms of war be made consistent with human rights, and if so how? Alternatively, do human rights and human rights law have a restricted or suspended status in times of war, and if so how can this be conceptualised and justified? What are the political challenges associated with trying to bring human rights considerations into the current framework of rules governing the use of force? Two examples will be used to highlight the contemporary dilemma: attempts by the international community to codify a new norm justifying the use of force to prevent or reverse mass violations of human rights (the 'responsibility to protect'); and the debate over the continuing viability of rules concerning the status of combatants during armed conflict.