Bombs ahoy ! : targeting of "pirate equipment" in Somalia : between law enforcement and hostilities
[S.l.] : [s.n.], 2012
32 p. ; 30 cm
On 15 May 2012, EU forces (EU NAVFOR) conducted, for the first time, an aerial attack against ‘pirate equipment’ located in Somali coastal territory. The operation, which did not target persons, was underplayed by EU NAVFOR as a ‘mere extension’ of ‘disruption actions’ regularly taken against pirates at sea. However, attacks of this type – labeled in this article as ‘forcible disruption operations’ (FDOs) – raise a plethora of legal questions, the importance of which stretches well beyond the case of Somalia, to the core of the law enforcement/hostilities dichotomy so prevalent in contemporary international-legal discourse. First, the question arises whether such actions are law enforcement operations, or rather are hostile acts. Positing that FDOs are closer to the latter, we ask whether they can be justifiable under international humanitarian or human rights law (IHL and IHRL). We further discuss whether relevant UN Security Council resolutions, as well as the consent of Somali authorities, affect this analysis. Rather surprisingly, the article concludes that while FDOs may be problematic under IHL, IHRL – due to its system of derogations – might indeed allow such actions. However, these must conform to several Rule of Law conditions, that safeguard the right to life and the adherence to due process obligations.