The publications listed here represent a small selection of the work of GCILS staff members. To see full listings of publications please click through to the University of Glasgow main webpages in each individual staff member profile.

How the emotions and perceptual judgments of frontline actors shape the practice of international humanitarian law

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Positioned in a nascent ‘affective turn’ in international humanitarian law (IHL) scholarship, this chapter draws attention to the long-overlooked emotional life and perceptual judgments of those who are expected to enact IHL. With reference to original fieldwork conducted at civil-military trainings in Sweden, Germany, and Italy, the chapter examines the interplay of law and emotions in everyday humanitarian-military interactions. As is shown, military actors are frustrated by the routine efforts that humanitarian actors make to dissociate from them. Complicating matters, humanitarian actors also sometimes call upon military actors for help. The chapter conceptualizes these humanitarian practices as a relational effort to cultivate detachment. The way that military actors experience humanitarian detachment prompts them to assemble an imaginary humanitarian figure actor who is aloof, mercurial, and often feminized. We thus find one soldier likening humanitarian NGOs to an ex-girlfriend who ‘only calls when she wants to cuddle’’. The chapter proposes that these festering sentiments of hostility influence the way in which military actors interpret their legal mandate to facilitate the work of humanitarian actors. The more general claim advanced is that we need to recognize individual conflict actors as people in order to fully grasp how IHL hits the ground.

In: Bandes, S. A., Madeira, J. L., Temple, K. D. and White, E. K. (eds.) Research Handbook on Law and Emotion. Series: Research handbooks in legal theory. Edward Elgar Publishing Limited: Cheltenham, UK ; Northampton, Massachusetts, USA, pp. 477-4

Quantum (In)Justice: Rethinking the Calculation of Compensation and Damages in ISDS

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The present article seeks to critically rethink the key issue of how compensation and damages are and should be calculated in the context of investor-State arbitration – the ‘quantum’ question, as is commonly referred to in arbitral practice. We will make three main claims: first that such calculations are premised on a fundamental consensus that presents the work of arbitrators in this area as essentially uncontroversial fact-finding operations and has led to an inflation of awards, second that this consensus is in reality built on a series of myths and unjustifiable assumptions, and third that the realization that this is so should lay the ground for more acceptable calculations.

The Humanitarian Civilian: How the Idea of Distinction Circulates Within and Beyond International Humanitarian Law

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In international humanitarian law (IHL), the principle of distinction delineates the difference between the civilian and the combatant, and it safeguards the former from being intentionally targeted in armed conflicts. This monograph explores the way in which the idea of distinction circulates within, and beyond, IHL. Taking a bottom-up approach, the multi-sited study follows distinction across three realms: the Kinetic realm, where distinction is in motion in South Sudan; the Pedagogical realm, where distinction is taught in civil–military training spaces in Europe; and the Intellectual realm, where distinction is formulated and adjudicated in Geneva and the Hague. Directing attention to international humanitarian actors, the book shows that these actors seize upon signifiers of ‘civilianness’ in everyday practice. To safeguard their civilian status, and to deflect any qualities of ‘combatantness’ that might affix to them, humanitarian actors strive to distinguish themselves from other international actors in their midst. The latter include peacekeepers working for the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), and soldiers who deploy with NATO missions. Crucially, some of the distinctions enacted cut along civilian–civilian lines, suggesting that humanitarian actors are longing for something more than civilian status–the ‘civilian plus’. This special status presents a paradox: the appeal to the ‘civilian plus’ undermines general civilian protection, yet as the civilian ideal becomes increasingly beleaguered, a special civilian status appears ever more desirable. However disruptive these practices may be to the principle of distinction in IHL, it is emphasized that even at the most normative level there is no bright-line distinction to be found.


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In: Geiss, R. and Melzer, N. (eds.) Oxford Handbook on the International Law of Global Security. Oxford University Press.

Eleni Methymaki

The Oxford Handbook of the International Law of Global Security

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The Oxford Handbook of the International Law of Global Security provides a ground-breaking overview of the relationship between international law and global security. It constitutes a comprehensive and systematic mapping of the various sub-fields of international law dealing with global security challenges, and offers authoritative guidance on key trends and debates around the relationship between public international law and global security governance. This Handbook highlights the central role of public international law in an effective global security architecture and, in doing so, addresses some of the most pressing legal and policy challenges of our time. The Handbook features original contributions by leading scholars and practitioners from a wide range of professional and disciplinary backgrounds, reflecting the fluidity of the concept of global security and the diversity of scholarship in this area.

Nils Melzer

Introduction: Framing the Relationship between International Law and Peace Settlements

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This introductory chapter identifies the key questions and themes for the International Law and Peace Settlements volume, and provides a framework and conceptual map for analysing the relationship between international law and peace settlement practice. In particular, it examines the concepts of peace and war, and their relation to law, before developing a working lexicon for peace agreements and settlements. The chapter then critically examines the legal character of peace agreements and settlement commitments as ‘legal tools’ for peace-making. This analysis provides essential foundations to map out the ways in which peace settlements and international law can interact. Those forms of interaction become key focal points for the various contributions in the remainder of the volume. The thematic rationale and structure of the volume is explained to orientate the reader in light of its key themes and questions.

Mark Retter
Marc Weller