On 13–14 March 2013 a two-day workshop was held at Chatham House to consider what law applied to the situations of violence in respect of Syria, Yemen and Libya during the period 2010–2013. These three case studies were chosen because each appeared to raise specific legal questions meriting examination. This paper is based on the discussions at the workshop, and consequently the commentary reflects events at that time. This paper first outlines the legal framework that informed the trajectory and content of questions put by the lawyers to the country experts. This is followed by summaries of the respective sessions based on the experts’ presentations, the exchanges that followed and the content of the briefing packs provided by the organizers. The final section sets out the main legal questions that emerged during the workshop which merit further work.