On Politics and Justice: British Military Justice following War Crimes Allegations in Iraq and Afghanistan, 2001-Present
The United Kingdom’s interventions in Iraq (2003-2011) and Afghanistan (2001-2021) gave rise to numerous allegations that British soldiers committed acts of brutality against local populations which contravened domestic and international law. These allegations found their way into several overlapping forums of accountability, including courts martial, domestic criminal courts, international courts, civil claims and two official enquiries. They also garnered significant public attention and inflamed debates concerning the motivations behind Britain’s involvement in these conflicts, her global role, and the nature of her armed forces. This project will unpack the legal processes which followed these allegations and the discourses which they provoked, focusing on three questions:
- How has British military justice been understood in public and political realms?
- What norms, ideas, beliefs and histories inform these understandings?
- How are these concepts instrumentalised in political discourses?
The study will use interpretative qualitative analysis of interviews, memoirs, and media coverage to interrogate the ways that the various actors understood, experienced and influenced contemporary British military justice. A comparative study of events in Australia and Canada will aid in determining whether events in the UK were unique or, as some have suggested, resulted from increased legal and media scrutiny of modern war.
Professor Rachel Kerr