Frédéric Mégret Lecture

23 May 2018


Frederic Megret

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Duties to One’s Own Population and Combatants in War: is there an “Internal” Humanitarian Law?

A public lecture by Frédéric Mégret, Associate Professor of Law and Dawson Scholar, Faculty of Law, McGill University and 2018 UWA Institute of Advanced Studies Visiting Fellow.

International humanitarian law is traditionally about the “other” side in the war, whether combatants or non-combatants. Just war theorists however have hinted at the idea that there is an “internal jus in bello” that applies in the relationship of the sovereign to its own population in war.  In this lecture, Professor Mégret explored that possibility in existing international humanitarian law. To what extent are some rules in armed conflict actually about protecting one’s own population (eg: not recruiting child soldiers; not placing military assets next to civilian installations)? What if the state has duties towards its own combatants? The recent judgment of the International Criminal Court convicting Ntaganda for sexual slavery against one’s own troops points to this emerging dimension. It implicates some crucial debates about the relationship of international humanitarian law to international human rights law, and emphasizes some of the challenges involved: is there a risk, for example, of being too protective of the lives of one’s soldiers at the expense of non-combatants on the other side?

Frédéric Mégret is an Associate Professor of Law and Dawson Scholar at the Faculty of Law, McGill University. He held the Canada Research Chair on the Law of Human Rights and Legal Pluralism from 2006 to 2015. Before joining the University of McGill, Professor Mégret was an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Toronto, a Boulton fellow at McGill University and a research associate at the European University Institute in Florence. He holds a PhD from the Université de Paris I and the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva. His interests lie in the theoretical dimensions of international law and the laws of war.

This public lecture was presented by the Australian Red Cross, the UWA Law School and the UWA Institute of Advanced Studies.