The application of Jus ad bellum and Jus in bello to the conflict in Afghanistan

Maha Eid


This thesis examines the application of international humanitarian law to the international armed conflict that took place in Afghanistan starting in October 2001. It examines the Unites States’ right to use force in self-defense against Afghanistan in retaliation for the 11 September 2001 incidents that involved the destruction of the twin towers in New York and damaged the Pentagon in Washington D.C. It further evaluates whether the United States and the de facto government of Afghanistan, the Taliban, committed violations of international law. Finally, the thesis identifies the possible remedies to which States may have recourse when they commit internationally wrongful acts, including violations of international humanitarian law, by among other alternatives, briefly examining the prospects for action by the International Criminal Court in such situations. The thesis argues and proves the following: the United States was not justified in using force as self-defense against Afghanistan (based on the evidence available); Afghanistan’s use of force in self-defense against the United States and its allies was justified; international humanitarian law applies regardless of whether the use of force was legitimate or not; the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and other customary norms apply to this armed conflict; indiscriminate attacks and the treatment of prisoners of war by the United States, and placing civilians near military targets and taking over hospitals for military purposes by the Taliban, violated norms of international humanitarian law; and finally remedies for violations of international law (use of force) and international humanitarian law are applicable.