The aim in this short study is to ask how, from a legal perspective, Australia has approached the issue of "NlAC." It seeks to achieve this by examining four discrete issues: conflict characterization, characterization of the opposing force, rules of engagement (ROE) and treatment of captured/detained personnel. The methodology adopted is to examine each of these issues through a broadly comparative prism - a comparison between a high-level non-NlAC operation (East Timor, 1999-2001) and a NIAC operation (Afghanistan, ongoing since 2005). The purpose behind adopting this methodology is to provide a framework for establishing an alternative against which NIAC practice can be compared. It also provides a means of illustrating the degree to which this practice is either consistent or different across the lower threshold of NlAC, that is. between less-than NlAC " peace" operations (law enforcement operations or stabilization/mitigation operations). and NIAC operations themselves. The reasons Australia has taken different characterization paths, and the consequences of these choices, are central to understanding any "Australian approach to NIAC." The underlying premise is that any legal understanding of NIAC and of the threshold between NIAC and less than NIAC is beholden to non-legal influences to a much greater degree than in dear law enforcement or dear IAC contexts.
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