Report on the Legal Framework Regulating Proxy Warfare

Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Defense Photo by Army Staff Sgt. Timothy R. Kosher (2018)

Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Defense Photo by Army Staff Sgt. Timothy R. Kosher (2018)

As part of Operation Roundup—the offensive to eliminate pockets of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters in the Middle Euphrates River Valley in Syria—Syrian Democratic Forces watch the aftermath of an airstrike on an ISIS location near the Iraq-Syria border.

The report examines how global and regional powers increasingly rely on state and non-state partners in the course of ongoing hostilities, particularly those occurring in the Middle East and North Africa. Research suggests that such support of armed proxies increases the risk of civilian casualties and protracted conflict. In response to these concerns, the ABA’s Center for Human Rights convened an Expert Working Group to examine whether gaps in the law have contributed to the adverse impacts of proxy warfare and make recommendations on how to reduce these risks. The report examines a number of case studies, including the ongoing conflicts in Yemen and Syria.

Read the Report 

Report on the Legal Framework Regulating Proxy Warfare (PDF)

On Tuesday, December 10, 2019, ABA CHR held a launch event for the Report, co-sponsored by the ABA Rule of Law Initiative, the American Society for International Law, and the Stimson Center. The featured panelists were members of the Expert Working Group,

Stephen Tankel (moderator), Associate Professor at American University and an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security;

Brittany Benowitz, Chief Counsel for the ABA's Center for Human Rights;

Linda Bishai, Adjunct professor at George Washington University;

Daniel Byman, Senior Associate Dean at Georgetown University's Walsh School of Foreign Service and Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution's Center for Middle East Policy; and

Rachel Stohl, Managing Director, Stimson Center.

View launch event photos

Click to View the Photos from the Report Launch Event

Listen launch event audio