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Case Study – Use of force against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant


The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has been progressively taking control of different territories in Iraq and Syria with the aim of establishing a new Islamic State in the region. On 10 June 2014, ISIS captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, followed by Tikrit, Rawa, Ana and Al-Qaim. Within a few weeks it controlled border crossings with Syria and pledged to march on Baghdad. These actions prompted the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to declare a state of emergency.

On 11 June 2014, ISIS entered the Turkish consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, and took 49 people hostage including Consul General Öztürk Yilmaz, three children and 16 diplomats. On 6 June, ISIS also abducted approximately 30 Turkish truck drivers.

Despite strong diplomatic pressure, Turkey refused to use armed force to fight ISIS at the time.

Essay focus and expectations

Please discuss: the legality of the use of armed force in this scenario, had Turkey decided to fight ISIS to rescue its nationals. Please outline and explain the possible arguments Turkey may have advanced to justify military action.

You are expected to:

• Provide informed commentary on the fundamental legal issues included in this scenario, particularly in terms of the legal framework regulating the use of force against non-state actors. This involves:

o Identification and commentary on relevant cases and the legal framework regulating the status of ISIS, the legality of the use of force to rescue nationals in another country, and the position of the Iraqi state over the territories involved.

o Identification and commentary on relevant scholarship regarding the legal issues under review.

• Identify the geo-political coordinates and national interests involved in the fight against terrorism in general, and ISIS in particular.

• Demonstrate you are able to communicate key principles and debates concerning the law of use of force, the situation of States without control over part of their territory, and the status of ISIS.

• Demonstrate you are an effective researcher through efficient use of databases and written sources (including the primary sources of international law)

• Produce clear, coherent, well-written, and well-referenced work.


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