by Eric Gordy
So where do professional goals and practices in international law intersect with efforts to provide legal protection to victims of conflict-related violence? You might think it is a silly question: don’t all practitioners in international law share the goal of providing the protection of international law? The ultraquick answer is no, they do not all have the same orientations, the same sympathies, or the same employers. Some of them want to establish and expand legal protection and some want to limit it.
Since these two groups are fundamentally opposed in terms of what they are trying to achieve, it is not too surprising that they should frequently try to discredit one another. It’s not much of a challenge to discredit projects that have the mission of exempting violence from legal oversight, of course. But what about the other side? Well, what if you were given the opportunity to argue that people interested in protecting civilians while you are fighting are strategic tools of the enemy? The opportunity has been provided, and it traces its origins to the effort of right-wingers to redefine the world after the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York.