Jul 22, 2015
2:00pm - 3:30pm    |    Wilf Hall 5th Floor Conference Room, 139 MacDougal St, NYC


Valid ID and RSVP required. RSVP here (http://goo.gl/forms/96VNQRm1e0) or email Audrey.Watne@nyu.edu. Refreshments will be provided.

What triggers a state’s obligation to investigate allegations of war crimes during situations of armed conflict? Both international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL) impose a duty on states to investigate allegations of serious violations to ensure accountability and safeguard a victim’s right to a remedy. This obligation continues to exist during situations of armed conflict, but its contours have not been fully delineated. While courts and commentators agree that the modalities of an investigation remain largely the same regardless of whether an armed conflict situation exists, what triggers an investigation is likely to differ during armed conflict given that the killing of civilians is not per se illegal during war. As such, not every civilian death during armed conflict will trigger the duty to carry out a criminal investigation. In general, only those allegations that raise a reasonable suspicion of the commission of a war crime will trigger a state’s duty to conduct an investigation. But how is “reasonable suspicion” assessed and by whom? A complaint that facially alleges a violation should trigger, at minimum, an inquiry to determine if the facts give rise to a reasonable suspicion of a serious violation, which would then necessitate a criminal investigation. This presentation will examine this initial inquiry, including several examples of state practice, and whether and to what extent human rights standards do or should apply.

About the speaker

Meera Shah is a Teaching Fellow with the Global Justice Clinic. Her work examines the intersection of international human rights and humanitarian law in the context of conflict-related displacement and military occupation. She has a regional focus on the Middle East, where she spent several years working and studying. In partnership with human rights organizations and advocates based in the region, Meera has supervised fact-finding, research, and advocacy projects related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Syrian refugee crisis, and human rights issues arising out of the recent transitions in the Arab world. Her research interests also include the ethics and pedagogy of human rights fact-finding methods.

From 2011-2014, Meera was the Clinical Advocacy Fellow at the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School. Prior to clinical teaching, she clerked for Judge Andre M. Davis of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Baltimore, Maryland. Meera received her J.D. from Columbia Law School in 2010, where she served as an articles editor for the Columbia Human Rights Law Review and was awarded the Lowenstein Fellowship for graduates pursuing public interest law. Meera also holds an M.A. in Arab Studies from Georgetown University and a B.A. in International Relations from Stanford University.


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