Use of force during occupation: law enforcement and conduct of hostilities

This article explores the law governing the maintenance of public order and safety during belligerent occupation. Given the potential for widespread violence associated with international armed conflict, such as occurred in 2003–2004 in Iraq, it is inevitable that military and police forces will be engaged in activities that interface and overlap. Human-rights-based norms governing law enforcement, such as the right to life, are found in humanitarian law, permitting an application of both law enforcement and conduct of hostilities norms under that body of law. This results in the simultaneous application of these norms through both humanitarian and human rights law, which ultimately enhances the protection of inhabitants of the occupied territory.

About the author

Kenneth Watkin
Expert on military law

Brigadier-General (Ret’d) Kenneth Watkin is a former Charles H. Stockton Professor of International Law at the United States Naval War College and previously served as the Judge Advocate General of the Canadian Forces.