This chapter explores the symbol of ‘boots’ in armed conflict, which are at the centre of discourse about military might and territorial control. With an eye on the themes of territoriality and extraterritoriality, this chapter considers some of the implications of ‘boots (on the ground)’ from the perspective of international law. For instance, a state’s having boots on the ground in military operations potentially results in its exercise of human rights obligation triggering ‘jurisdiction’, in addition to the otherwise applicable international humanitarian law obligations. Or, it might result in that state being held responsible for commission of international crimes committed by non-state actors (through the mechanic of attribution via the ‘effective control’ test set out in Nicaragua and the Bosnia Genocide Case). In addition, ‘boots on the ground’ can also serve an important symbolic function—in particular signalling the level and nature of commitment to genuine humanitarian operations.
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