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IOW Report Summary

Project ID: 340956
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Italy

Mid-Term Report Summary - IOW (The Individualisation of War: Reconfiguring the Ethics, Law, and Politics of Armed Conflict)

The interdisciplinary project on the 'Individualisation of War' (IOW) critically analyses the impact of the increased prominence of the individual in the theory and practice of armed conflict. This process of individualisation, which challenges the primacy of collective entities such as the sovereign state, has two main drivers: powerful normative developments related to human rights; and dramatic technological and strategic developments that enhance impact and precision. Individualisation has generated new kinds of ‘humanitarian’ wars and peacekeeping missions, as well as weapons which enable both the targeted killing of those individuals deemed most liable for acts of war or terror, and the protection of innocent civilians caught up in armed conflict or acts of state suppression. It has also facilitated the injection of human rights law into the law of armed conflict, and a new class of international crimes for which individuals can be held accountable.

Our overall hypothesis is that while the normative drivers of individualisation are generally desirable, and enjoy a relatively high level of support, the process of individualisation is placing enormous strain on the actors most actively engaged in contexts of conflict: the governments and armed forces of states, international security organisations, and humanitarian agencies. In particular, individualisation is giving rise to a set of ethical, legal, and political dilemmas that are underpinned by a deeper tension between the newly privileged moral and legal claims of individuals and the more traditional ones of sovereign states.

The research of our interdisciplinary team is directed at two main outcomes:

• the first integrated conceptual framework for understanding individualisation (how it is manifest and the dilemmas/tensions to which it is giving rise); and
• concrete recommendations for policy actors - both on how to respond to particular ethical, legal, or political challenges that arise from individualisation and on the likely longer term trajectory of individualisation.

Our findings to date can be sub-divided into four main sections:

1. Understanding Individualisation

Individualisation is a process in which individuals (both as agents and as subjects) increase in importance, compared with collective entities, for the purposes of explaining and normatively assessing the causes and conduct of war. These collective entities can be sovereign states, but also particular categories that are prominent in the ethics and law of armed conflict - most notably combatants and non-combatants.

Our on-going research suggests that the process of individualisation forces us to confront the status
of individuals in at least three different domains: 1) as subject to violence but deserving of protection, given their individual rights; 2) as liable to attack because of their particular responsibility for threats posed to others; and 3) as agents who can be held accountable for the perpetration of crimes committed in the course of conflict.

The first major aspect of individualisation is the move to make the individual - and his or her rights - one of the central reasons or causes for engaging in armed conflict (what is referred to in Just War literature as jus ad bellum). In other words, individuals have become significant subjects of law and policy. Whereas conflicts in previous centuries were about the gain of territory or resources, defence of the state against attack, or - in exceptional cases - the rescue of minority groups in neighbouring states, many contemporary conflicts have as one of their central and explicit purpose the protection of individuals' security. Three manifestations of this trend are the focus of analysis in this stream: the development of the principle of the 'responsibility to protect'; the increasing focus of UN peacekeeping on the protection of civilians; and the implementation of international humanitarian law.

The second key dimension of individualisation is the move to both establish and act upon individual liability in the conduct of armed conflict (what is commonly referred to as jus in bello rules). If all persons have rights, and if important rights such as the right to life can only be lost or forfeited on the basis of some responsible action of the right bearer him or herself, then it seems to follow that liability can only be established by examining the particular circumstances of individual actors within a conflict. Three manifestations of this trend are observed in the project: the move towards revision of the 'moral equality of combatants', through suggestions that not all combatants are equally liable to be killed in war; the move towards considering some non-combatants - so-called high value targets - as liable to lethal force, through particular forms of targeted killing; and the increasing intersection of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, based on the argument that warring parties must be accountable for how they treat rights-bearing individuals in the context of armed conflict.

Attempts to give effect to the norms and laws regulating armed conflict have traditionally focused on the imposition of obligations on states and state-like actors. Over the course of the last century, however, specific obligations have been imposed directly on individuals (as either leaders or soldiers), breaches of which give rise to accountability for criminal acts undertaken in the course of war. This third key aspect of individualisation culminated in the 1998 Rome Statute creating the International Criminal Court (ICC). There are three manifestations of this form of individualisation that structure the analysis in this stream of the project: the pursuit of individual accountability for international crimes in the context of on-going armed conflict and its impact on conflict resolution; the engagement of states with individual accountability mechanisms and its impact on domestic politics; and recent advances in the effort to hold individuals accountable for the crime of aggression.

2. Analysing the Implications of Individualisation

The IOW project begins from the assumption that while the human rights norms underpinning many of the manifestations of individualisation are normatively desirable in themselves and enjoy relatively broad support, efforts to operationalise protection, liability, and accountability are placing enormous strain on the actors and institutions most actively engaged in armed conflict.

This strain is manifest in a series of concrete tensions that are confounding contemporary policy-makers and potentially weakening the legitimacy of national, international, and non-governmental institutions. In the realm of protection, the UN Security Council is caught between its state-centric constitution, which has traditionally demanded the even-handed treatment of parties to a conflict, and its increasing recognition of its responsibility to protect individuals - illustrated in the contrast between the relative speed with which the Council was able to act in Libya in 2011, compared with its recent failure to reach a consensus on how to respond to documented crimes against humanity in Syria. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (1999-2010), UN peacekeepers faced agonising strategic and operational dilemmas over how to fulfil their civilian protection mandate, which required addressing atrocities perpetrated by either state or non-state actors, while at the same time avoiding criticism that would alienate the government of President Kabila, whose consent was critical to their continued presence (and which was eventually withdrawn). With respect to operationalising liability, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs or 'drones') seemingly offer state leaders a golden opportunity to target lethal force more precisely against a specific individual who poses a grave threat, thereby minimizing the loss of their own personnel. On the other hand, the use of lethal force by the executive branch, without judicial or legislative oversight, calls into question fundamental protections of a liberal-democratic society. In the case of accountability, diplomatic actors face a dilemma between pursuing criminal action against individual perpetrators (as they did in Libya in 2011), which can close off options for negotiation that might bring a more rapid end to conflict and civilian suffering, or privileging conflict resolution strategies (as they did in Yemen in
2011) that deny justice to some victims of international crimes and contradict rhetorical commitments about 'ending impunity'. New legal practices associated with accountability also place humanitarian agencies in a deeply uncomfortable position, since they are closer to the crimes of war than most other institutions, and could potentially provide evidence in criminal proceedings. To give such evidence, however, could make their personnel the targets of violence or - as in the case of Darfur in 2005-9 - persona non grata, thereby rendering it impossible for them to continue to protect civilians on the ground.

The second main task of the project is thus to identify and understand the tensions that arise from the phenomenon of individualisation, and to assess how they might be resolved. We hypothesise that underlying some/many of the practical trade-offs experienced by key institutions and actors in armed conflict are deeper clashes involving values or norms. More specifically, based on our initial research in this first phase, we posit that there are at least four different kinds of tensions emerging from individualisation:

• Tensions that arise at a conceptual level, such that it seems normatively impossible to fully realise both objectives: for example, the tension between maintaining impartiality in peacekeeping and honouring the imperative to punish one side of a conflict for its systematic infringement of human rights.
• Tensions that arise from the practical attempt to achieve or operationalise two objectives due to intrinsic and unavoidable facts about the world: for example, the tension between the achievement of peace (between conflict parties) and justice (for victims of crimes of war).
• Tensions that arise from the practical attempt to achieve or operationalise two objectives due to contingent facts about the world: for example, the difficulty of achieving humanitarian objectives with armed forces and strategic doctrines that are tailored to large scale counter-force operations.
• Tensions that arise between different manifestations of individualisation: for example, the tension facing humanitarian actors in meeting the request to provide assistance to mechanisms established to bring accountability for violations of IHL, while at the same time ensuring continued access to individual civilians in need.

Having identified these forms of tension, we have further considered possible forms of resolution. Theoretically, we conceive of a spectrum of approaches. This spectrum ranges from - at one end - a principled and general attempt to integrate two sets of important values, to - at the opposite end - more ad hoc strategies that respond with a particular, context-specific solution to tensions that emanate from individualisation. In between these two extremes would sit various forms of what we call norm "reconciliation" and "institutional adaptation", which enable actors to reduce the frequency and severity of tensions (if not completely eliminate them).

The first approach entails the reconceptualisation of a normative terrain, such that one value or norm is consistently prioritised over another. An example from the civilian protection stream is the notion of "sovereignty as responsibility": the doctrine which claims that state sovereignty, while a bedrock norm of international society, is no longer understood as undisputed control over territory but rather as comprising a set of conditional rights, dependent upon a state's respect for a minimum standard of human rights for its citizens. Under this reconceptualisation of sovereignty, while states are still seen as the primary agents responsible for protecting their populations, outside actors can take on a remedial responsibility for protection without compromising sovereignty or the norm of
non-intervention. Sovereignty and human rights thus become integrated, and are assumed to be directed at the same (ultimate) objective.

A second approach along the spectrum, reconciliation, seeks not a general solution to a tension - involving the prioritisation of one norm over another - but rather the creation of context-specific relationships between competing norms and values. An illustration is the legal practice of what project team member Dapo Akande calls "coordinated interpretation". This strategy is applied to situations where there are two legal regimes considered relevant and appropriate, with neither necessarily subordinate to the other. Both regimes thus apply, non-exclusively, to the same set of circumstances, often with one normative framework supplementing the other. This approach has operated in attempts to address apparent tensions between international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL), in situations where both are claimed to have jurisdiction. Through coordinated interpretation, IHRL rules can be used to inform and 'humanize' IHL rules in particular circumstances.

The furthest end of the spectrum is marked by the lack of any systematic approach to addressing the tensions that arise from individualisation. In situations where normative objectives are seen as incompatible, there are at least three options for response: paralysis - i.e., no action; sequencing (whereby one objective is pursued first and then the other); or a form of principled inconsistency, through a case-by-case assessment of which objective to privilege in any given situation. An example for the second strategy is the "peace first, justice later" approach to addressing the dilemmas that arise from efforts to pursue individual accountability for perpetrators of international crimes in the midst of an armed conflict.

3. Initial Findings from the Project Streams
Members of the IOW team are analysing individualisation, and its manifestations, across a range of central practices and issues related to armed conflict. These are three examples of our emerging findings:

Individualisation and impartiality in UN peacekeeping
The United Nations is a very particular kind of humanitarian and political actor, whose very existence and purpose is premised upon inter-governmental agreement. Since the end of the Cold War, it has attempted to honour that political heritage, while at the same time pursuing a more cosmopolitan interpretation of its humanitarian responsibilities, particularly through what project team member Emily Paddon calls a more 'assertive' interpretation of impartiality in the context of peacekeeping.

In the case of peacekeeping, the increasing focus on the protection of individual victims has posed two central dilemmas. The first stems from the claim that the UN's authority - impartiality - is no longer based on an explicit or fixed notion of state consent, but on more fundamental norms as expressed in the UN Charter and international humanitarian and human rights law. Nevertheless, this has raised the question of how to weigh the human rights dimension of the UN's work with the Charter's commitment to self-determination and sovereign equality - both of which emphasize the need for states to consent, through multi-lateral processes, to the rules that regulate their behaviour. As Paddon shows, this dilemma has created political divisions within the UN itself, given that the most vocal objections to the more assertive interpretation of impartiality have been raised by developing countries (both in the General Assembly and its Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations - the so-called C-34) who express concern about the potential to undermine state sovereignty.

The second and related dilemma derives from the fact that the consent of the main parties, which includes the host-state, remains essential to the presence of peacekeeping forces on a sovereign territory. How are UN-authorized forces to execute their mandate to protect civilians against any actor that violates their rights, while at the same time supporting the government - the primary bearer of the responsibility to provide long-term protection and the agent whose strategic consent remains essential to their presence? When the state's armed forces are themselves engaged in violence against civilians, as has been the case, for example, in UN missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and South Sudan, the stabilization and capacity-building elements of peacekeeping can be criticized for strengthening the very actors that are committing violations against populations.

As Paddon shows, the UN's attempts to address these dilemmas have been both substantive and ad hoc. At the doctrinal level, it has insisted on a distinction between "strategic consent" and "tactical consent". The former is obtained from the main parties to a conflict (including the host state) and is a fundamental requirement for the deployment and on-going presence of a peacekeeping mission. It therefore cannot be jeopardized or subordinated. Consent at the tactical level, by contrast, is often secured from non-state armed groups or factions on the margins of a political process. According to UN doctrine, this form of consent is no longer necessary, and the tactical use of force by peacekeepers can be justified against any armed group (including the state's army or security forces) that pose an imminent threat of violence to civilians (Paddon, 2016).

At the institutional level, the United Nations has responded to the potential for complicity with armed actors engaged in violence against civilians with initiatives such as the Human Rights Due Diligence Policy, which stipulates that the UN cannot provide support to non-UN armed actors "where there are substantial grounds for believing there is a real risk of the receiving entities committing grave violations of international humanitarian, human rights or refugee law". And finally, at a tactical level, the United Nations' peacekeeping missions have made ad hoc decisions to withhold certain forms of support to governments deemed to be failing in their responsibility to protect their population - either through specific provisions in the mandate or through internal directives from the Secretary General or Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping.

While none of these responses represent an ambitious effort to reconceptualise the UN's role as a humanitarian actor, some do attempt to specify the relationship that should prevail between values that have come into tension in the context of peacekeeping (for example, state consent and civilian protection). The UN's new Human Rights Up Front initiative, developed in 2013, is a more comprehensive and systemic effort to prioritize the protection of populations from systematic violence, through changes in the way that information is gathered and analysed, new training for all UN staff, and reform of the organization's decision-making structure.

Individualisation and the Law of Armed Conflict
The research to date in this work package is directed at examining individualisation as it manifest in the increasing intersection of international human rights and humanitarian law. Team member Dapo Akande, in conjunction with a set of prominent international lawyers, has addressed in a holistic way the growing relationship between these two bodies of law, by offering concrete guidance for armed forces and practitioners on the detailed application of international human rights law during armed conflict. In addition to setting out a conceptual framework for understanding the intersection, their handbook (Murray et al., 2016) provides practical guidance as to the legal regulation of specific situations, including discussion of the conduct of hostilities, detention operations, humanitarian assistance, cyber operations, and investigations.

Team member Helen McDermott's work focuses on a particular aspect of the relationship between the two bodies of law - namely, the scope of states' human rights obligations toward members of their armed forces. While soldiers are individuals who are entitled in principle to human rights protection, this can only be the case in practice if it is established that the state has a duty to protect them in particular circumstances.

The European Court of Human Rights' (ECtHR) evolving (and expanding) interpretation of jurisdiction for the purposes of the reach of the Convention now makes it very difficult for states parties to deny that they owe obligations to their military personnel, wherever they are located. The pressure to acknowledge the force of soldiers' human rights has also been intensified through the work of the Council of Europe and of NGOs who have lodged amicus curiae submissions on behalf of applicants.

Recognition of the rights of soldiers, in their capacity as members of the armed forces, is also evident in the jurisprudence of domestic and regional courts. As McDermott finds, 1978-2014 saw 31 cases involving members of the British armed forces decided by the ECtHR and ECmHR. The majority of the applicants were (former) members of the armed forces or their relatives. These cases fall into three categories: (1) discrimination against the service personnel on the basis of sexual orientation and their subsequent dismissal from the forces; (2) operation of the military justice system; (3) cases related to scientific tests carried out on service personnel.

However, the extent to which domestic courts recognize states' human rights obligations toward members of their armed forces varies across jurisdictions. In 2013, the UK Supreme Court in Smith v MOD held that deceased soldiers were under the UK's jurisdiction for the purposes of Article 2 ECHR at the time of their deaths (on duty in Iraq). The Court further held that the question of whether a positive obligation to protect life under Article 2 ECHR (or in negligence) had been breached required examination of the facts. The US courts, by contrast, have not allowed human rights claims brought by military personnel, whether they are serving at home or abroad. The US resists the extraterritorial application of human rights law obligations, meaning that conduct occurring beyond its territory is deemed to fall outside of its jurisdiction. Application of the 'Feres doctrine' (1950) means that soldiers are also unable to sue for negligence (under a normal duty of care).

It is also important to note the pushback against the process of individualisation in this domain. This resistance is driven largely by the strain placed on governments in relation to costly litigation, as well as by the potential impact that court judgments could have on military decision-making and operations on the ground. Increased involvement of the courts is seen by many governments as decreasing their role in shaping the law that applies to their armed forces on the national and international level. As a result, some governments are now using combat immunity as a blanket defense preventing soldiers from claiming reparations (as human rights violations) in civil courts for injuries or deaths resulting from combat, except under official compensation schemes.
As McDermott suggests, opening up the conduct of combat to the scrutiny of the courts after the event sits uneasily with traditional notions of military exceptionalism. The apparent disconnect between the operational environment and courtroom raises questions as to whether decisions about procurement or the conduct of operations should be reviewed by the courts. This concern is illustrated by the ongoing debate within the UK government following a series of ECtHR cases arising out of its overseas military operations. McDermott observes a growing unease over the 'jurification' of military conflict and concern that legal developments are undermining the ability of its armed forces to operate effectively in conflict situations. This is exemplified by UK Prime Minister Theresa May's proposal in October 2016 to derogate from the ECHR (sparked by the work of the Iraq Historical Allegations Team).

Individual accountability in the context of on-going armed conflict
In recent history, the main driving force behind the move to criminally prosecute individuals for specific forms of atrocities under international law-rather than seeking other forms of accountability for breaches of obligations by states or other state-like, collective actors-came from the desire to seek some form of reckoning after World War II. But this particular domain of individualisation was furthered by developments after the end of the Cold War, including both the evolution of international human rights law (through which the rights of individuals and peoples became an international, rather than domestic, concern) and the creation of ad hoc tribunals to prosecute those responsible for the commission of international crimes. These developments culminated in the 1998 Rome Statute creating the International Criminal Court (ICC) - a permanent court, with potentially global reach, that can activate investigations independent of the consent states.

As team members in this stream have shown, individualisation has been occurring unevenly across the four core crimes under international law. Specifically, while prosecutions for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity have been carried out by both international criminal tribunals and domestic criminal courts with universal jurisdiction, prosecutions for the crime of aggression have faced steeper obstacles from states. As the initial negotiations for the Rome Statue of the ICC did not provide a clear definition for the crime aggression or set out its jurisdictional conditions, a consensus amendment was adopted in the 2010 Kampala review conference (which is scheduled to come into force in 2017). The consensus amendment sets out different conditions for the ICC to exercise jurisdiction than the other core international crimes, providing for specific limitations on the situations in which the Prosecutor may initiate proprio motu investigations. Furthermore, the amendment allows states to opt-out of the court's jurisdiction specifically regarding the crime of aggression.

The reluctance of states to fully operationalise the crime of aggression highlights the main counterforce pushing back against the individualisation of responsibility for war and mass violence-power politics. On one level, the reality of power politics and the lack of a significant enforcement mechanism for international criminal tribunals can result in shielding politically powerful individuals from being held accountable; it can also result in the general lack of individual accountability efforts in conflicts that involve politically powerful states. From this perspective, the countervailing force against individualisation is not collectivisation, but rather impunity.

Two main types of tensions raised by individualisation in this domain can be identified: first, the tensions arising from the selectivity of cases; and second, the tensions arising from pursuing accountability alongside peace. The first tension stems from contingent factors in the 'real world', namely the limited resources that can be used to pursue individual accountability for war or armed conflicts. The inherent nature of war and armed conflict as mass events, involving multitudes of people, mean that there will be a staggering number of individuals that could be held accountable for any given conflict situation. At the same time, both domestic and international criminal courts and prosecutors have limited resources, particularly in order to investigate complex and politically difficult cases involving wars. Consequently, there is an inherent selectivity in which individuals are targeted for prosecution.

The question thus arises: what is the underlying principle that guides the selection process? As team members have shown, international criminal tribunals have addressed this challenge by focusing on the 'most responsible' perpetrators for the 'most serious' violations of international criminal law. For their part, domestic courts have often imposed restrictions on what kind of cases can be considered by the prosecutor, requiring either a territorial condition (the incident, or the supporting incident, has to have happened within the boundaries of the country) or connection to its citizens (national citizens have to be involved, either as victims or perpetrators). In short, both international and domestic actors appear to be employing a "reconciliation" approach to addressing the tensions associated with selectivity. However, in reality this approach has not been consistent-international criminal tribunals, for example, have been criticized for going after the 'lowest hanging fruit,' focusing on conflict situations that are considered to be political less controversial or easier to prosecute, or individuals that are more cooperative or less powerful.

Second, individual accountability may create tensions with the pursuit of peace. While some have argued that the pursuit of individual accountability can be a source of peace, others have suggested that holding individual leaders or combatants accountable may lead to the creation of spoilers to peace. This is the basic argument in the 'peace vs justice' debate in international criminal justice. Our research suggests that the predominant strategies of resolving this tension are of three main kinds.
The first is reconciliation, through the incorporation of individualised notions of responsibility into otherwise more collective aims of accountability (for example, truth commissions have been aimed at establishing broader historical truths, while requiring individual testimonies). The second strategy is one of principled selectivity, in which general or conditional amnesty is granted to lower-ranking combatants and accountability is pursued against military or political leaders. The final approach is sequencing, whether deliberate - where a specific timetable for accountability is created in peace negotiations - or non-deliberate - where individual accountability is pursued out of political necessity after peace has been established.

Individualisation in this domain primarily treats the individual as an 'agent'. However, there is often a secondary dimension to efforts to implement the norm of individual criminal accountability for atrocity crimes, which highlights the individual as a 'subject'. In several cases, the criminal prosecution of high-level individuals is seen as a means of protecting individuals from the criminalized conduct in question (through the process of deterrence). As a result, the accountability stream and the protection stream can overlap.

The work of team member Ruben Reike has produced two main arguments in relation to this overlap. First, it may not always be the case that the relationship between the pursuit of accountability and the pursuit of protection is one of 'win-win'. Reike makes this argument with respect to the International Criminal Court and the principle of RtoP. More specifically, through an examination of the cases of Darfur, Libya and Syria, he demonstrates that the Security Council's utilization of its ICC referral power in order to end impunity and protect populations from atrocity crimes advanced neither the objectives of RtoP nor the objectives of the ICC. He also finds that Security Council referrals to the ICC in these instances had the effect of weakening the ICC, by exposing its weak enforcement powers. Second, through an analysis of the struggle to implement the norm of individual accountability in Syria, he argues that the pursuit of accountability in this case confronted a unique implementation challenge, as it required collective implementation at the international level, rather than the more conventional domestic-level implementation process associated with criminal justice. International initiatives to implement the individual accountability norm in Syria were thus impeded by contestation about when, by whom, and at what cost implementation should occur. This contestation reveals that international actors still disagree about how to reconcile this new trend associated with individualisation with longstanding norms relating to conflict resolution and external regime change.

4. The 'Push back' against Individualisation

The tensions raised by individualisation have in some cases led to efforts to counter-act, or over-ride, the objectives of individual protection or accountability. Our project is therefore animated by a critical and non-teleological approach, which does not assume that the process of individualisation is
'one way' or that it is always viewed as an unmitigated 'good'. As our research shows, the imperative to protect civilians, target particular individuals, or hold leaders accountable can conflict with other powerful norms, such as non-intervention, sovereign equality, or impartiality. Moreover, non-Western states point to the uncomfortable reality that the operationalisation of norms related to individualisation is often directed solely at developing countries - manifest in the fact that humanitarian interventions have yet to occur in developed countries (with the exception of the former Yugoslavia) and that the criminal cases pursued by the International Criminal Court have thus far all related to African countries.

Team member Jennifer Welsh has assessed this phenomenon of 'push back' with respect to a particular case: the norm of the 'responsibility to protect' (RtoP). In particular, she shows how the cases of Libya and Syria have raised fundamental questions about the ability of RtoP to catalyse efforts to protect individuals from atrocity crimes. Three main effects can be identified. First, these cases have highlighted the problems associated with arriving at a single collective view on an atrocity crime situation. Second, they have illustrated the difficulty of determining when military force should be considered: must military force literally be a 'last resort', or is it legitimate if peaceful means are deemed likely to be inadequate? And finally, both cases have underscored the challenges that arise in efforts to estimate and weigh the costs of action and inaction in situations involving the potential use of military means. Unlike other norms whose robustness can be measured by internalization and implementation by national governments, the fulfillment of RtoP also necessitates collective agreement and response by a wide range of states - which is notoriously difficult in international relations. The persistent concerns being raised about RtoP's so-called third pillar are opening up avenues for deeper contestation about the norm's very justification (Welsh, 2016).

More broadly, scholars and policy-makers are pointing to a series of trends that are undermining the human rights advances that help to fuel individualisation. The most visible manifestation can be found in the policies of the new Trump administration in the United States. However, Trump's rise has intensified, rather than created, the push-back against individualisation. The international order has been experiencing a more profound structural shift, which gives increased power to Xi Jinping's China and Putin's Russia, both of which have openly challenged human rights norms. In addition, the nationalist-populist revolt in Western democracies has targeted human rights institutions as well as the global economic system in which they are embedded. All of these forces, it has been suggested, are challenging post-Westphalian visions of a shared global order and "giving way to an era of resurgent sovereignty." (Strangio, 2017). In the next phase of the IOW project, we will more systematically assess these sources of push-back, and suggest how they might impact not only the tensions arising from individualisation but also its longer-term trajectory.


Murray et al, eds. 2016. Practitioners' Guide to Human Rights Law. Oxford University Press.

Paddon, E. Taking Sides: Impartiality and the Future of the United Nations. Oxford University Press, 2016.

Strangio, S. 'Welcome to the Post-Human Rights World', Foreign Policy, 7 March 2017. Available at:

Welsh, J. 2016. 'The Responsibility to Protect after Libya and Syria', Daedalus: Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vol. 145, No. 4.

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