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Copyright (c) 2010 New York University Law Review
New York University Law Review

NOTE: THE LAW OF NEUTRALITY AND THE CONFLICT WITH AL QAEDA

October, 2010

New York University Law Review

85 N.Y.U.L. Rev. 1186

Author

Tess Bridgeman*

Excerpt



Introduction
 
While many aspects of the United States's conflict with al Qaeda and associated forces 1 have been intensely debated by legal scholars and policymakers, one important question has thus far been almost completely ignored: Where, if at all, does the law of neutrality 2 fit into the legal framework governing the conduct of this armed conflict? I argue that neutrality, the body of laws regulating the coexistence of states at war and those at peace, is one of several principles 3 that ensure the completeness of the modern law of armed conflict (LOAC) framework. 4 In particular, neutrality is important in achieving geographic (or territorial) completeness of the legal regime: The 1949 Geneva Conventions (GCs) that form the bedrock of our LOAC framework 5 were written against the background understanding that neutrality would operate wherever GC protections did not apply (i.e., beyond the physical location of the fighting in states involved in the conflict). 6 Outside of belligerent territory, the laws of neutrality operate. Neutral territory has been of little importance in recent armed conflicts, 7 but is more relevant in today's conflict with al Qaeda.

This Note argues that neutrality has become increasingly important because the conflict with al Qaeda presents a highly atypical geographical scenario in which fighting more often occurs outside of the territory of the initial belligerents. 8 Only two belligerent territories can readily be identified 9: (1) U.S. territory, the locus of armed conflict since the ...
 
 
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