IPI Salzburg Forum: The Rule of Law and the Laws of War

From September 6-9, the International Peace Institute (IPI) convened its annual Salzburg Forum on the theme of “The Rule of Law and the Laws of War.” The meeting brought together current and former foreign ministers, experts on international humanitarian law, diplomats, academics, journalists, and representatives from civil society in Schloss Leopoldskron in Salzburg to discuss the erosion of the rule of law and its impact on justice, peace, and security.

Opening speeches were made by Aurelia Frick, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Education and Culture of Liechtenstein, and Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary-General of the Council of Europe. IPI President Terje Rød-Larsen gave a speech on the importance of leadership.

Over a series of eight sessions, participants discussed a wide range of issues on challenges to, or weaknesses in, the current system of international public, criminal, and humanitarian law. For example, how to deal with non-state actors, how to strengthen compliance, how to enable self-governance without changing borders by force, and how to make more effective use of the United Nations’ normative framework around the “responsibility to protect?” There was also a debate on if and how to criminalize the use of force.

The forum also looked at the impact of technology and armed non-state actors on the laws of war. One session raised frightening hypotheses about the unchecked effects of biological, cyber, and automated (robotic) weapons.

In a highly topical session, participants debated how to resolve trust and cooperation in Europe, particularly in relation to the crisis in Ukraine.

The last session, originally planned to look at how to improve multilateral cooperation to strengthen the rule of law, was changed to discuss how to deal more effectively with the urgent global refugee crisis. It resulted in the issuance of the Salzburg Declaration (click here to read more).

As part of the event, Ray Bartkus—an internationally renowned Lithuanian artist based in New York–presented an installation entitled “Hybrid War” (click here).

Related Coverage:

Interview with Former Foreign Minister of Canada, Lloyd Axworthy (Power Play, CTV, September 2015)
The Necessity of Courage When Contemplating Political Suicide” (Foreign Policy, September 11, 2015)
Syria’s exodus isn’t a European problem. It’s the whole world’s” (The Guardian, September 10, 2015)

In German:
Wiener Zeitung, October 1, 2015