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International Humanitarian Law Clinic

Rules of War/Tools of War Project

The IHL Clinic initiated the Rules of War/Tools of War project – formerly called “Mind the Gap” – to assess the legal and operational complexities inherent in complicated conflicts, stability operations, and humanitarian assistance operations.

The intersecting legal frameworks applicable during these situations pose nuanced challenges for both military and civilian actors tasked with promoting the rule of law. In particular, a lack of clarity can produce complexity and challenges in several key operational areas: detention; targeting and limitations on the use of force; civil-military relations; and the parameters of the authority and responsibility for conducting operations. Understanding this complex suite of issues is fundamental to promoting the rule of law in conflict and post-conflict environments.

Project Framework

This project brings together leading practitioners and scholars with operational and legal experience in a range of peace and stability operations to

  • Identify the key legal questions that arise over the continuum of conflict scenarios;
  • Assess whether and how problems in defining the conflict situation and identifying applicable legal regimes complicates effective and legal interventions;
  • Determine which relevant materials and products would be most useful for military and civilian actors on the ground;
  • Address how to better train key actors in this regard;
  • Develop a framework for better analyzing the key questions and dilemmas identified; and
  • Provide an operational matrix that can be used as a tool for actors in peace and stability operations to more accurately assess their legal obligations and duties in a given context.