ICRC Archives

Law as a weapon: case studies from sub-Saharan Africa (with Julia Grignon) (eds.)

Book proposal submitted, book manuscript in progress


This edited volume offers an innovative way of studying law by presenting it not only as a constraint, but also as a “weapon” used in conflicts by both armed and unarmed actors, be they local or non-local ones: these comprise states, armed groups, neighbor countries, international organizations, NGOs, lobbies, legal advisers, policymakers, practitioners, etc. We examine how the legal rules for classifying and organizing conflicts form a constraining system from which the various protagonists derive manipulative, instrumentalizing and circumventing strategies to conform the reality of a conflict to their own agenda. We study how actors involved in armed conflicts invest as many resources in how they can manipulate the classification of a situation of violence as they do in the weaponry that will give them a military edge. We also look at how actors engaged in armed conflicts tend to fake a winding-down of the conflict or, by maneuvering to have it normalized, provoke a restart of international aid flows, foreign investments or legitimize international intervention. The book offers a groundbreaking interdisciplinary vision on three major issues: the characterization of conflicts, resource exploitation, and peacemaking/keeping. It does this by systematically interweaving the perspectives of jurists and political scientists that highlight what the law allows and prohibits in a contentious situation and how practitioners exploit these rules for their own benefit.