International Humanitarian Law Clinic

The International Humanitarian Law Clinic is a research and advocacy institute that promotes the law of armed conflict and fights to eliminate torture, war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

To accomplish these goals, the IHL Clinic focuses on three main priorities: 1) the implementation of humanitarian law in U.S. military operations and national security strategy; 2) accountability for violations of IHL; and 3) training and education for militaries and organizations involved in armed conflict.

The IHL Clinic works on the front lines in all three areas—researching ways to hold perpetrators accountable, working on detainee cases and other issues in the “war on terror” and working with the U.S. military on strategies for better implementation and training in the law of armed conflict. The clinic partners with international criminal tribunals, the U.S. military, non-governmental organizations and law firms around the world. Under Clinic Director Laurie Blank’s instruction and supervision, Emory Law students work in the United States and abroad to minimize the devastating consequences of war for soldiers and civilians alike.

Promoting the Laws of War
Contemporary conflicts pose significant challenges for effective implementation of IHL in complex military operations and counterterrorism campaigns. The IHL Clinic engages with military and civilian actors to address difficult legal questions, including: the status of specific crimes under the laws of war; the application of IHL to cyberwarfare; the legal framework for the use of targeted killing and drones; and legal obligations governing the release and transfer of detainees. In addition, the clinic directs Mind the Gap: Complex Legal Frameworks and Complex Operational Challenges, a major multinational project co-sponsored by the U.S. Institute of Peace to create a toolbox for military and civilian actors on the ground in stability operations.

Enforcement and Accountability
Protecting civilians in conflict areas, preventing atrocities, and holding perpetrators of atrocities accountable is an endless task. The IHL Clinic plays a key role in this fight. Students work in real-time with international criminal tribunals and human rights organizations, helping prosecute or defend individuals accused of war crimes, raise public awareness of atrocities and ensure the protection of civilians and combatants in conflict regions around the world. In particular, the IHL Clinic has prepared briefs and memoranda for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the U.N. Committee Against Torture and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, and submissions to the European Court of Human Rights and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture. Clinic students also research and write country reports on war crimes prosecutions and universal jurisdiction and assist with cases against human rights abusers living in the United States.

Training and Education
Effective and comprehensive training and education is critical for the protection of civilians and soldiers and effective mission accomplishment. The IHL Clinic partners with the U.S. Institute of Peace to research and analyze military training programs in countries around the world. Law of War Training: Resources for Military and Civilian Leaders provides a directory and analysis of such training programs. The manual, which helps countries around the world develop more effective training programs, is available in print and in a searchable online database. The IHL Clinic also works with the International Committee of the Red Cross to develop teaching supplements for faculty teaching IHL and related topics.


Exploring the Drone and Legal Unknown

Unmanned Aerial Systems at Home, on the Battlefield, and in space.

ILH Clinic Director Laurie Blank spoke at an Oct. 18, 2011, workshop on unmanned aerial systems at the University of North Dakota.