‘From Friends to Foes: Foreign Troops in Post-Conflict Situations’ – Dr Aurel Sari

Seminar report by Dr Ioannis Kalpouzos

13 November 2013

Our International Law and Affairs seminar series continued with what proved to be a very rigorous talk – and ensuing discussion – on the legal status of foreign troops in post-conflict situations. The talk was given by Dr Aurel Sari, a Lecturer at the University of Exeter and specialist in the law of armed conflict, state immunity and, particularly, the legal status of armed forces.

Dr Sari managed to expose the “messy” (his words) state of the jus post bellum and the consequences that this has on the degree of immunity of foreign soldiers. He referred to a variety of relevant cases, like the Lozano case including the killing of an Italian soldier by an American soldier in Iraq, and managed to both inform and healthily frustrate an audience of (not purely) international lawyers. He argued, ultimately, that state consent is necessary for the transition from ‘foes to friends’ and for the ensuing clarification of immunity rules. As both the detail of the material and the aspects of his argument are not done justice to in such a report, he provided us with his slides and the interested reader is advised to read Aurel’s article on ssrn: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2320981.   Aurel also proved quite adept in answering a variety of questions, which ranged in specificity and points of view. We discussed legitimacy, whether it is indeed possible to speak of ‘friends’ in any such context, when a conflict has ended and there are winners and losers – and, ultimately, in which direction is the jus post bellum meant to move.

Here is the talk’s abstract and a short bio for our speaker. More seminars are planned for next term: http://www.city.ac.uk/law/courses/research/international-law-and-affairs-group-ilag/news-and-events.


Foreign armed forces frequently play an important part in the transition from a state of conflict to a state of peace, yet their presence more often than not is a source of controversy, as the cases of Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrate. Under these circumstances, we may legitimately expect the rules of international law governing the legal status of such forces to serve a dual function: they should lay down certain general standards of behaviour and provide a framework for interaction between sending States and host States, thus injecting a measure of predictability and procedural legitimacy into an otherwise highly volatile legal and political setting.

He will suggest that two distinct concerns relating to the legal position of foreign forces arise in post-conflict situations: the effect that changes in the legal basis of their presence have on their legal status and the need to balance the principle of territorial sovereignty and the jurisdictional exemptions of foreign forces in a manner that reflects the specific features and demands of post-conflict environments. Both of these two concerns point towards the need for a more contextual and dynamic understanding of the legal status of foreign forces deployed in post-conflict environment.

He also had a recent interesting post on EJIL Talk discussing the effects of the legal regulation of British forces on the battlefield.


Dr Aurel SariDr Sari is a Lecturer in Law specializing in public international law and the legal aspects of European security and defence policy. He is particularly interested in the legal status of foreign armed forces under international law and other questions of military and operational law. He is currently preparing a monograph on the subject to be published  by Cambridge University Press.

Before taking up an appointment at Exeter Law School in 2008, he studied law and politics at the University of Durham (BA, First Class), the London School of Economics (LLM, Distinction) and University College London (PhD). His work has been published in leading academic journals, including the European Journal of International Law and the International and Comparative Law Quarterly.

He is a member of several academic associations and serve on the ILA Committee on Nuclear Weapons, Non-proliferation & Contemporary International Law, the ILA Study Group on The Conduct of Hostilities under International Humanitarian Law and the editorial board of The Military Law and the Law of War Review. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law in Cambridge in 2009 and have taught law at universities in the UK and abroad.

Read more about Dr Sari.


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