The geopolitics of international humanitarian law and the kunduz hospital bombing

Alex Jeffrey on the recent Afghan hospital bombing and international humanitarian law.

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Reports are suggesting that on 3rd October a US AC130 gunship fired on an Afghan hospital in the city of Kunduz, killing 12 staff members and 10 patients and wounding many more (while the precise figures are unclear at the moment estimates suggest around 37 people). While NATO, the Afghan Government and the US military have all stated they will launch inquires, the international humanitarian NGO Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) that ran the hospital is calling for an independent investigation, claiming the attack is a violation of international humanitarian law (IHL). This desire for independence is perhaps understandable, considering that since the hospital bombing the US military have released four different accounts of the circumstances surrounding the attack, while there is also a long history of the use of inquiries/investigations to delay public scrutiny of military or political decisions (see criticisms of the UK’s Iraq War Inquiry). But the desire for…

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