Hays Parks on the Forthcoming DOD Law of War Manual

November 19, 2010

* Hays Parks on the Forthcoming DOD Law of War Manual

Many of us have been eagerly anticipating the revised edition of DOD’s Law of War Manual. Yesterday, Hays Parks delivered an address to the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security breakfast series in which he gave a fascinating overview of the process through which that revision has gone, along with a sense of what will be different about the new manual and when we can expect it.

It appears the new volume will exceed 1000 pages, and will be rich in detail relating to state practice rather than mere treaty quotations. Examples from the speech:

In contrast to FM 27-10’s single page, the DoD Manual weapons chapter is ninety-six single-spaced pages. This is a representative contrast between the DoD Manual and its immediate predecessor. Authors of the DoD Manual benefited from almost four decades of international discussions on the legality of weapons.

The new manual contains chapters on new topics. Non-international armed conflict, relatively unknown in 1956, evolved from a single article in the 1949 Geneva Conventions to the 1977 Additional Protocol II. Since the end of World War II, the United States military has fought three conventional armed conflicts for a cumulative time of less than four years. In the same time, they have engaged in counterinsurgency operations in three major armed conflicts lasting a cumulative 23 years. Therefore, non-international armed conflict merited a chapter. Technological developments have played a similar role, resulting in a 17-page chapter on information and cyberspace operations.

The written version of the speech is here. The audio, which includes lengthy Q&A, is here.

ABA speech 11082010 FINAL (AS GIVEN).pdf