IPI Salzburg Forum 2015: The Rule of Law and the Laws of War

One of the main threats to the current world order is the erosion of the rule-of-law based international system. Due to the advent of new technologies and hybrid warfare, the laws of war have also become blurred. A major cause of both of these trends is the emergence of armed non-state actors. This meeting note aims to explore this erosion of the rule of law and its impact on justice, peace, and security.

This note stems from a meeting the International Peace Institute (IPI) organized on the theme “The Rule of Law and the Laws of War” from September 6 to 9, 2015 in Salzburg, Austria. The meeting brought together current and former foreign ministers, experts on international humanitarian law, diplomats, academics, journalists, and representatives from civil society. It was part of the IPI Salzburg Forum, a major annual event to address the risks and challenges of today and contribute to more effective multilateral governance in the future.

Over a series of eight sessions, participants discussed a wide range of challenges to, or weaknesses in, the current system of international public, criminal, and humanitarian law, including how to:

  • Address threats to social cohesion, bad governance, and violent non-state actors;
  • Strengthen compliance with international humanitarian law;
  • Make effective use of the UN normative framework around the “responsibility to protect”;
  • Enable self-governance without changing borders by force;
  • Adapt the international system to accommodate new technologies;
  • Criminalize the illegal use of force;
  • Build trust and cooperation in Europe, particularly in relation to the crisis in Ukraine; and
  • Deal more effectively with the urgent global refugee crisis.

At the end of the meeting, participants issued the Salzburg Declaration on the European Refugee Crisis, proposing concrete steps to help save refugees.