Dynamics of law, organisation and morality in contemporary warfare : the right to life in the case of the Israeli military International Law Department
This thesis places at the centre of its attention the members of the International Law Department (ILD) of the Israeli military. Its point of departure is the 2008/2009 Israeli offensive in the Gaza strip, a military operation which caused extensive loss of lives. During this offensive, the Israeli military made unprecedented use of the ILD. This dissertation sets out to examine the dynamic processes through which extreme violations of human rights, and most fundamentally, the right to life, are negotiated and authorized by these expert practitioners of international law. This exploration is methodologically based on interviews with ILD members and discourse analysis and is grounded in concepts and tools of critical legal theory, organisation studies and debates of morality. The findings of the thesis reveal that, in the case of the ILD team, International Humanitarian Law, organisational structures of the military and perceptions of morality play a role in enabling the execution of extreme violence and extensive violation of the right to life. Moreover, these same structures and conditions hinder the possibility of assigning responsibility for lives lost. Building on the study-case of the ILD of the Israeli military, the dissertation seeks to further understanding of the dynamics between law, organisational structures and morality as they relate to the legal work of practitioners in contemporary warfare. Ultimately, the thesis demonstrates that existing tools are insufficient in protecting the right to life, and aspires to contribute to the assignment of legal and moral responsibility for loss of lives.
ForlagUniversitetet i Tromsø
University of Tromsø
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