Lebanon: Beginning of the End for International Law?

Lebanon: Beginning of the End for International Law?

So suggests an Irish parliamentarian in the Irish Times (text available here).

I don’t think so, for two reasons. First, law in any form is going to be uneven in its coverage. Gerald Neuman had a wonderful 1996 piece in the Stanford Law Review entitled “Anomalous Zones,” about the geographically and temporally discontinuous application of the law. Think red-light zones and the Carnivale. Neither by itself threatens the law’s overall efficacy or legitimacy (although there may be cases with potentially serious spillover effects, as Neuman notes of Guantanamo). So perhaps the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is like a red-light zone. IL may not have much traction there (or in other contexts in which distinct peoples perceive their survival to hang in the balance), but that doesn’t say much about its application elsewhere.

Secondly, it seems like IL may be making some headway even in this theater. This seems particularly true on the issue of civilian casualities, which is being taken seriously this time around in a way I don’t remember in previous conflicts in the area. Proportionality has also been a prominent feature in framing the debate over the Israeli response. To paraphrase the old saying about New York City, if international law can make it there, it can make it anywhere. There’s at least the possibility that IL will have proved a factor in actor behavior in this episode.

I’m going to sign off here as a guest as I stare down a move later this week from Athens to Philadelphia. Thanks to Kevin for the send-off. I’ve enjoyed the visit. It’s good to see that blogging has now been deemed a respectable undertaking in the law world, and one can understand why after taking it up for a few weeks. I’d recommend the experience, which has been especially enjoyable on a site with such a talented cohort as this one. Thanks very much to the Opinio Juris crew for having me on board.

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Professor Spiro,

Thanks from an inveterate reader who enjoys commenting here. I second Professor Heller’s sentiment.

All good wishes,