Case Western Reserve University School of Law’s LAWFARE! Conference Takes on a Troubling Question

Are America’s enemies using law against us as a weapon of war?

News Release: Wednesday, September 1, 2010

CLEVELAND - Everyone knows about the perils of warfare. Now international law experts are increasingly worried about “lawfare,” a term of growing importance as the United States prepares to mark nine years after the September 11 attacks.

Of great concern is whether some tactics regularly occurring internationally under the guise of law are making the world a more dangerous place. If America’s enemies are using law against us as a weapon of war, how should the nation best respond? Due to the urgency of that question, Case Western Reserve University School of Law on Sept. 10 is hosting “LAWFARE!” – a major academic conference dedicated to exploring the lawfare concept.

Two dozen distinguished experts and government officials participating in Case Western Reserve’s Lawfare Conference will discuss world tensions and potentially dangerous developments in the context of examining whether “acts of lawfare" are occurring. The panelists will debate how the United States and its allies should best go about “countering lawfare" for a safer, more peaceful world.

Professor Michael P. Scharf, organizer of the Lawfare Conference and noted authority on international law issues, says the participants will examine three areas in which evidence shows law is being used as a weapon of war: lawfare and the war on terrorism; lawfare and the Israeli-Palestinian situation, and lawfare and international tribunals.

Scharf , John Deaver Drinko-Baker & Hostetler Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve, is director of the Frederick K. Cox International Law Center. He says there are important world developments right now which are tied to lawfare.

For example, the week of the conference, the Guantanamo Bay Military Commission trial of accused al Qaeda terrorist Omar Khadr is scheduled to recommence, with the beginning of the prosecution’s case in chief. Scharf says that Khadr’s lawyers have indicated that they will try to turn the table and make the trial about U.S. detainee policies, including alleging that American interrogators threatened to gang rape Khadr, who was only 15 when he was captured in Afghanistan. Sharfs says: “Our conference experts will examine how best to respond to this type of lawfare.”

As a second example, Scharf says American officials are concerned that the ongoing efforts to restart the Israel-Palestine peace talks are being hampered by a lawfare campaign that is being waged against Israel. Of note are recent press reports indicating that Palestinians are launching a series of lawsuits against Israeli officials in courts throughout Europe.

One of the LAWFARE! panelists is Major General Charles J. Dunlap, Jr., USAF, deputy judge advocate general, who is credited with coining the term “lawfare” in a speech at Harvard eight years ago. General Dunlap says that lawfare can be used for good as well as bad purposes. One example of “positive lawfare” in the press this month is the U.S. proposal to establish a UN Commission to investigate the atrocities committed by the regime in Burma. According to Scharf, “Constructive engagement with the Burmese government wasn’t getting us anywhere, so the United States has itself turned to employing lawfare.”

Note to reporters and editors: Media representatives are welcome to attend the conference, or to view it via live webcast at: Professor Scharf, General Dunlap, and the other conference panelists are available for media comment before and during the Conference. Scharf can be reached on his cell phone, (216) 534-7796, or Blackberry:

Posted by: Marvin Kropko, September 1, 2010 05:12 PM | News Topics: Official Release