Detention In Military Operations

Deprivation of liberty is subject to the strictest legality requirements, but the grounds and procedures of detention in international and non-international conflicts are contested. Several states have in the last decade looked into providing legal base in domestic law without introducing any legislation or reaching any outcome otherwise.

What is the effect of the increasing harmonization between the rules applicable in international and non-international armed conflict? What are the respective scopes  of international humanitarian law/laws of war and human rights, and international and domestic law? What are the respective roles of governments, their different forms of less formal cooperation, the ICRC and human rights NGOs? Yet another focus is on the role of different courts and UN bodies and their interaction.


There will be introductions by

  • Professor Andreas Paulus, Göttingen, completing his term as a judge of the Bundesverfassungsgericht
  • Professor Lawrence Hill-Cawthorne, Bristol
  • Førstekrigsadvokat Bödvar Ingvarsson, The Norwegian Military Prosecution Authority - Judge Advocate General
  • Forsker Cecilie Hellestveit, PhD, Folkerettsinstituttet, Oslo
  • Jelena Plamenac, PhD, Research Fellow at the Centre for International Law Research and Policy, Florence

Professor Hill-Cawthorne will introduce the changing idea of IHL as permissive, in contrast to historical State practice that viewed it as prohibitive. Detention is a perfect example of that, and he will then discuss some recent examples of practice where States try to keep detention in the context of military operations beyond the bounds of ordinary legal processes. He will focus here on recent case law in the UK and US on habeas corpus (as a matter of domestic law) in relation to military detainees. He will briefly outline the position on the application of international human rights law to persons detained in international and non-international armed conflicts.

Professor Andreas Paulus will turn to the legal basis for detention.  His emphasis would be more on the theoretical question of the existence of a power to detain - in particular in NIAC, where it is doubtful. This is also a constitutional and human rights question, because if there is neither in international nor in domestic law a power to detain, there exists no legal basis whatsoever.

The seminar will be chaired by Professor Mads Andenas, former United Nations President-Rapporteur on arbitrary detention.

Digital participation 

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Meeting ID: 667 8611 2524

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Published May 23, 2022 9:33 AM - Last modified June 24, 2022 10:58 AM