Extending positive identification from persons to places: terrorism, armed conflict, and the identification of military objectives
Laurie R. Blank
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Utah law review, Vol. 2013, no. 5, 2013, p. 1227-1261
This Article addresses the identification of military objectives in a variety of non-international armed conflict contexts, including conflicts with terrorist groups operating transnationally and conflicts with non-state actors located outside the state’s borders. In particular, the nature of non-international armed conflict can alter how the basic definition and analysis of the term "military objective" is applied. To the extent that the application of the definition of military objectives in non-international armed conflicts introduces complications and conceptual challenges that blur the lines between civilian and military, and exacerbate existing difficulties, it is important to tease out and better understand those conceptual challenges. Building on foundational discussions of the law of targeting and the definition of military objective as set out in Additional Protocol I and customary international law, this Article analyzes the legal and operational complexities of identifying military objectives in non-international armed conflicts. The first question centers on the meaning of the criterion of "nature" and whether it is substantially narrower in the identification of military objectives on the non-state actor side of the conflict. A second major question concerns dual-use objects -- does the nature of non-international armed conflict result in nearly all objects being dual-use objects? Finally, this Article explores the ramifications of cross-border and transnational conflicts in particular for jus ad bellum and operational considerations as well in applying and interpreting the definition of military objectives.