Partnered Operations and International Law

Partnered operations where states partner among themselves, with armed groups or with international organisations are nowadays commonplace, from peacekeeping to combat operations. In today’s armed conflicts, partnering can range from the provision of weapons, logistics, intelligence, or training to co-deployment or joint military operations.
Partnered operations pose many challenges to the interpretation and application of international law including operational law, international humanitarian law (IHL), human rights law (IHRL) and the law of international responsibility.

In relation to operational law, achieving legal interoperability is critical in view of the fact that partners may have different legal obligations or have varying interpretations of specific rules. Questions concerning the rules of engagement, the rules for the use of force, the role and implications of the UN Security Council authorization, operational planning and oversight, training, and the procurement of equipment may arise. In relation to IHL, questions may arise regarding the characterisation of the armed conflicts where partners participate; the scope and content of the obligation to ‘ensure respect’ of IHL; the application of the law of targeting; the role of human rights in partnered operations as for example in relation to detention, transfer of detainees or targeting.

If violations of IHL and IHRL occur in the course of partnered operations, attribution questions may arise but also questions as to whether violations can give rise to shared responsibility and how responsibility can be allocated among partners. Another set of questions concerns the scope and content of responsibility for complicity in partnered operations; whether the rules on complicity can apply to partnerships between states and armed groups or among armed groups; the scope of responsibility arising from security sector assistance to
partners; the scope of responsibility attached to the obligation to ‘ensure respect’ of international humanitarian law.

In light of the real-world impact of these legal and operational challenges, the ESIL Interest Group on Peace and Security, the ASIL Lieber Society on the Law of Armed Conflict, the Department of Legal and Economic Studies – Law School – of Sapienza University of Rome and the National Research Council of Italy (CNR) will be convening a papers conference to address many of the issues raised by partnered operations today. The conference – hosted by Sapienza University – will consist of several thematic panels in which selected authors will present their work, which will then be discussed by distinguished experts.

We invite papers which address the themes and topics described above, but also other issues arising from partnered operations and concerning operational law, IHL, IHRL and the law of international responsibility.

Application Process

Please submit an abstract of no more than 800 words by midnight on 31 March 2020 to
Andrea Harrison (;
Nicholas Tsagourias (;
Ilja Richard Pavone (;
Emanuele Cimiotta (

The following information must be provided with each abstract:

  • the author’s name, affiliation and contact details, including email address and phone number;
  • the author’s CV, including a list of publications.

Applicants will be informed of the selection committee’s decision no later than 15 May 2020.

Evaluation criteria

Abstracts will be selected on the basis of the following criteria: (i) their alignment with the conference description; (ii) the overall coherence of the conference and its panels; and (iii) the originality and significance of the issues to be examined in the paper.

Draft papers should be submitted by 30 August 2020. Draft papers should be between 6,000 and 8,000 words inclusive. Selected papers may be published in an edited collection or a special edition of a journal.

Travel and accommodation

Speakers will be expected to bear the costs of their own travel and accommodation.

Further information and a full programme will be provided in due course.

For more information on the IGPS
For more information on the Lieber Society
For more information on Sapienza University of Rome
For more information on CNR

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