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Visual Lawfare

September 30, 2022 | 6:00 pm7:30 pm EDT

Mayaan Amir (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev) on lawfare and evidential imagery at the service of military objectives

One of the central factors shaping today’s armed conflicts is what is known as lawfare—“the use of law as a weapon of war” (Dunlap, 2001: 2). This presentation zeroes in on the role visual material plays in lawfare. Visual lawfare involves diverse kinds of still images and video footage which are deployed to justify (or condemn) a broad spectrum of military operations. These include pre- and post-war justifications, which affect the function of visual material in the constant tug-of-war over meaning. Drawing on examples from the Syrian civil war—in which visual documentation was presented at the UNSC to legally shield military operations in Syria—and other historically earlier cases, this event expands on how visual evidence is employed or produced to sanction the lawful use of violence while citing international codes of conduct.

Former Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic to the United Nations Bashar Jaafari presents a photograph described as that of a Syrian soldier assisting with the evacuation of Aleppo, Syria, 13 December 2016. (c) UN DGC, AV Library
A talk by Maayan Amir (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev) in conversation with Uli Baer (New York University) & moderated by Raphael Sigal (Amherst College)