Emile Simpson (KCL) - 2014-15 Students

War, Peace, and the Enemy in International Law

The boundaries between war and peace compartmentalise violence in the world. When they are blurred, violence is de-compartmentalised, as war merges with, and contaminates, routine political activity. Two implications follow. First, we experience long wars, because politics doesn’t end. Second, we experience a militarization of foreign and domestic policy, with the attendant consequences for civil liberties, public debt, and executive power.This project presents a historical account of how and why evolving concepts of the enemy in international law have influenced the boundaries between war and peace, specifically in terms of encouraging either clearly delimited or open-ended conflicts.This account has a contemporary problem in mind: the tendency, driven by the globalising effects of the information revolution, for conflicts increasingly to inhabit gray zones between war and peace, which de-compartmentalise violence in the world. I argue that we should seek so far as possible to swim against the current of this trend, and re-compartmentalise violence in the world. Both in the policy arena and in courtrooms, states need to recognise the impact on the boundaries between war and peace associated with the way they characterise the enemy in international law.

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