Brendan Delany (’17) Wins National Institute of Military Justice Essay Prize

September 27, 2016

Brendan Delany (’17) has been named the winner of the 2016 Admiral John S. Jenkins Prize for Excellence in Military Studies for his essay “Just Wars with Unjust Allies: Use of Force and Human Rights Considerations on the Russian Intervention in Syria.” The essay competition is conducted by the National Institute of Military Justice and is open to all students of military law who have not yet completed their J.D. studies. Submissions are judged by a committee of law professors and practitioners.

Delany’s winning paper is an analysis of the legality of the Russian intervention in Syria and its implications for making Russian military and civilian leaders responsible for the crimes of the Assad regime they are supporting. The paper argues that the intervention was likely legal under international law, but that Russian military and civilian leaders would become criminally responsible for supporting regime military operations. Delany’s conclusion proposes a new norm of international law that would make it a crime to knowingly render military assistance to state or nonstate actors who engage in human rights abuses such as grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. This, Delany said, “would link international law regarding resort to the use of force (jus ad bellum) with international humanitarian law (jus in bello) regarding the legality of conduct of participants to an armed conflict.”

“Brendan wrote an outstanding essay on a military law issue of substance and importance,” said Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin. “This prize reflects that as well as the strength of our Law of Armed Conflict teaching and programming at the Law School.” Noting that a three-student team from the Law School won the Red Cross-sponsored Clara Barton International Humanitarian Law Competition last spring, Ní Aoláin added, “We also look forward to Brendan participating in the Clara Barton team this year and continuing to showcase the strengths of the Law School in human rights and the laws of war.”

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