Law and Ethics

Coordinator: Kristoffer Lidén

​What is the relationship between norms and the realm of international affairs? Can it ever be morally defensible to engage in armed struggle? If so, what rules and parameters should guide the use of armed force? How are current rules grounded, and how can we critique and change them so that they contribute to peaceful relations and further the cause of justice? And, not least, how can we use ethics and law to build trustful, stable, and peaceful relations in a multicultural world? These and similar overarching questions form the foundations of the Law and Ethics research group at PRIO. 

​The work of the Law and Ethics research group is primarily focused on three overarching themes, each encompassing a number of related research areas:

1. The rules of war and peace in history and in practice

2. Emerging military technologies (including unmanned aerial vehicles and cyber technology)

3. Institutional and moral challenges in the current world order.

PRIO’s work on Law and Ethics encompasses the academic fields of law, moral philosophy, political theory, religious studies, theology, history, and sociology. Although quantitative approaches will oftentimes be utilized or relied upon, the researchers within this research group mainly employ qualitative, hermeneutic approaches, both historical and sociological. Law and Ethics includes both normative and descriptive projects.


Upcoming Events

Past Events


Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Lidén, Kristoffer; Nona Mikhelidze; Elena B. Stavrevska & Birte Vogel (2016) EU support to civil society organizations in conflict-ridden countries: A governance perspective from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus and Georgia, International Peacekeeping 23(2): 274–301.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2015) African Drone Stories, BEHEMOTH a Journal on Civilisation 8(2): 73–96.
Lemaitre, Julieta & Kristin Bergtora Sandvik (2015) Shifting Frames, Vanishing Resources, and Dangerous Political Opportunities: Legal Mobilization among Displaced Women in Colombia, Law & Society Review 49(1): 5–38.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2014) Regulating War in the Shadow of Law: Toward a Re-Articulation of ROE, Journal of Military Ethics 13(2): 118–136.
Reichberg, Gregory M. (2013) The Moral Equality of Combatants - A Doctrine in Classical Just War Theory?, Journal of Military Ethics 12(2): 181–194.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2013) Cyberkrig og internasjonal rett, Internasjonal Politikk 71(2): 252–262.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora; & Hans-Inge Giske Langø (2013) Cyberspace og sikkerhet, Internasjonal Politikk 71(2): 221–228.
Liden, Kristoffer (2013) In love with a lie? On the social and political preconditions for global peacebuilding governance, Peacebuilding 1(1): 73–90.
Binningsbø, Helga Malmin; Cyanne Loyle; Scott Gates; & Jon Elster (2012) Armed conflict and Post-conflict Justice, 1946–2006: A Dataset, Journal of Peace Research 49(5): 731–740.
Begby, Endre;Reichberg, Gregory M.; & Syse, Henrik (2012)The Ethics of War. Part II: Contemporary Authors and Issues , Philosophy Compass 7(5): 328–347.
Hayashi, Nobuo (2010) Requirements of Military Necessity in International Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Law , Boston University International Law Journal 28(1): 39–140.
Harpviken, Kristian Berg; & Fixdal, Mona (1997) Anti-personnel Landmines: A Just Means of War? , Security Dialogue 28(3): 271–285.

PhD Thesis

Lidén, Kristoffer (2014) Between Intervention and Sovereignty: Ethics of Liberal Peacebuilding and the Philosophy of Global Governance. PhD thesis, Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas, University of Oslo, Oslo.

Book Chapter

Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2016) The Public Order Drone: Promises, Proliferation and Disorder in Civil Airspace, in The Good Drone. London: Ashgate .
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2016) How accountability technologies shape international protection: results-based management and rights-based approaches revisited , in Kristin Bergtora Sandvik, ed., UNHCR and the Struggle For Accountability, Technology, Law and Results-Based Management. London: Routledge Humanitarian Studies .
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2016) Law in the militarization of cyber space: framing a critical research agenda , in Friis, Karsten; & Jens Ringsmose, eds, Conflict In Cyber Space Theoretical, Strategic and Legal Perspectives. Abingdon, OXON: Routledge .
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2016) Introduction: The Quest for an Accountability Cure , in Kristin Bergtora Sandvik, ed., UNHCR and the Struggle For Accountability, Technology, Law and Results-Based Management. London: Routledge Humanitarian Studies .
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2016) The Political and Moral Economies of Dual Technology Transfers: Arming Police Drones, in Drones and Unmanned Aerial Systems. Berlin: Springer International Publishing .
Lidén, Kristoffer & Kristin Bergtora Sandvik (2016) Poison Pill or Cure-All: Drones and the Protection of Civilians, in Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora; & Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert, eds, The Good Drone. London: Ashgate. London: Ashgate .
Jumbert, Maria Gabrielsen & Kristin Bergtora Sandvik (2016) Introduction: What Does It Take to Be Good?, in The Good Drone. London: Ashgate .
Lemaitre, Julieta & Kristin Bergtora Sandvik (2016) Structural Remedies and the One-million Pesos: on the Limits of Court-ordered Social Change for Internally Displaced Women in Colombia, in The Public Law of Gender from the Local to the Global. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press .
Brekke, Torkel (2015) The Indian Tradition, in James Turner Johnson, ed., Ashgate Research Companion to Military Ethics. London: Ashgate (415–427).
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora & Julieta Lemaitre (2015) From IDPs to Victims in Colombia: A Bottom-Up Reading of Law in Post-Conflict Transitions, in Saul, Matthew; & James A. Sweeney, eds, International Law and Post-Conflict Reconstruction Policy. London and New York: Routledge (251–271).
Tønnesson, Stein (2015) The 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea: Why Has It Not Brought More Peace and Cooperation?, in Le, Thuy Trang; & Trong Thuy Tran, eds, Power, Law, and Maritime Order In the South China Sea. Lanham: Lexington Books (91–100).
Marsh, Nicholas & Atina Karim (2015) Article 13 Reporting , in Wood, Brian; & Clare da Silva, eds, Weapons and International Law: the Arms Trade Treaty. Brussels, Ghent, Luxembourg, Paris: Larcier (213–230).
Lidén, Kristoffer & Henrik Syse (2015) The Politics of Peace and Law: Realism, Internationalism and the Cosmopolitan Challenge, in Larsen, Kjetil M. ; & Cecilia Bailliet, eds, Promoting Peace Through International Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press (21–42).
Brekke, Torkel (2014) The Sikh Tradition, in Reichberg, Gregory M.; & Henrik Syse, eds, The Comparative Ethics of War. New York: Cambridge University Press (672–701).
Reichberg, Gregory M. (2013) History of Just War Theory, in Hugh LaFollette, ed., International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell .
Reichberg, Gregory M. (2013) Jacques Maritain, in Kristiansen, Ståle Johannes; & Svein Rise, eds, Key Theological Thinkers: from Modern to Postmodern. London: Ashgate (657–668).
Brekke, Torkel (2012) The Dharam Yudh or Just War in Sikhism, in Kaushik Roy, ed., Warfare and Politics In South Asia from Ancient to Modern Times. New Dehli: Manohar (387–414).
Bergsmo, Morten (2008) Tematisk etterforskning og straffeforfølgning av seksualisert vold i konflikter: Er det en uproblematisk praksis? [Thematic Investigation and Prosecution of Sexual Violence in Conflict: Is this Unproblematic?], in Skjeie, Hege; Inger Skjelsbæk; & Torunn L. Tryggestad, eds, Kjønn, Krig, Konflikt. Oslo: PAX (79–91).

Edited Volume

Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora; & Katja Lindskov Jacobsen, eds, (2016) UNHCR and the Struggle for Accountability Technology, law and results-based management. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. Routledge Humanitarian Studies.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora; & Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert, eds, (2016) The Good Drone. London: Ashgate.
Reichberg, Gregory M.; & Henrik Syse, eds, (2014) Religion, War, and Ethics. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Brekke, Torkel (ed.) (2009) The Ethics of War in Asian Civilizations: A Comparative Perspective. London: Routledge.
Syse, Henrik; & Gregory M. Reichberg, eds, (2007) Ethics, Nationalism, and Just War: Medieval and Contemporary Perspectives. Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press.
Harpviken, Kristian Berg (ed.) (2004) The Future of Humanitarian Mine Action. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Hayashi, Nobuo (ed.) (2000) Multilateral Treaty-Making - The Current Status of Challenges to and Reforms Needed in the International Legislative Process. Leiden: Brill.

Non-refereed Journal Article

Hayashi, Nobuo (2013) Military Necessity as Normative Indifference, Georgetown Journal of International Law 44(2): 675–782.

Popular Article

Tank, Pinar & Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert (2016) Flyktningavtalen mellom EU og Tyrkia er kostbar - særlig for flyktningene [The EU-Turkey Deal is Costly - Especially for the Refugees], Aftenposten.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2016) New Developments in Drone Proliferation: How Africa was Deployed to Rescue Drones, by Kristin Bergtora Sandvik, Mats Utas.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2016) The Refugee Crisis as a Global Humanitarian Challenge, European Council of Foreign Relations.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2015) An academic New Year’s resolution for Colombia: understanding continued gendered violence as a threat to positive peace, Intlawgrrls.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora & Julieta Lemaitre (2015) From IDPs to Victims in Colombia: Transition from Humanitarian Crisis through Law Reform?, Reliefweb.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora & Kjersti Lohne (2015) What's wrong with the idea that 'robots don't rape'?, Open Democracy.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora & Kjersti Lohne (2015) Lethal Autonomous Weapons: Killing the ‘Robots-don’t-Rape’ Argument, Intlawgrrls.
Syse, Henrik (2015) Fire år etter terroren: De viktige debattene [Four years after the terror: The important debates], VG, 22.07.2015.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora & Julieta Lemaitre (2015) Beyond Sexual Violence: Gendered Political Insecurity as a Threat to Peace, Intlawgrrls.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2015) Evaluating Ebola: the politics of the military response narrative, EISF.
Syse, Henrik & Odin Lysaker (2014) Slik får vi en anstendig debatt, Aftenposten, 22. September.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora; Maral Mirshahi & Nicholas Marsh (2014) Killer robots – hvorfor ønsker man et forbud? [Killer Robots - The Quest for a Ban], NRK Ytring.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora & Nicholas Marsh (2014) Lethal Autonomous Weapons: Issues for the International Community, Security & Defence Agenda.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora; Nicholas Marsh & Maral Mirshahi (2014) The Struggle to Ban Killer Robots, Bullentin of Atomic Scientists.
Lysaker, Odin & Henrik Syse (2013) Ingen ytringsfrihet uten etikk [No freedom of speech without ethics], Aftenposten, 29 Mai.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2013) Fra ubemannede fly til drapsroboter [From UAVs to killer robots].
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2012) Droner truer demokratiet, Klassekampen, .
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2011) Morgendagens Kriger [Tomorrow's Wars], Aftenposten, 20 June.

PRIO Report

Lemaitre, Julieta; Kristin Bergtora Sandvik; & Juliana Vargas Gómez (2014) Organización comunitaria y derechos humanos. La movilización legal de las mujeres desplazadas en Colombia. [Community organization and human rights. Legal mobilization of displaced women in Colombia.], PRIO Report, 10. Colombia: Universidad De Los Andes (Justica Global).
Lemaitre, Julieta; Kristin Bergtora Sandvik; Eva Sol López; Juan Pablo Mosquera; Juliana Vargas Gómez; & Patricia Guerrero (2014) Sueño de vida digna” La Liga de Mujeres Desplazadas: Estudio de caso en mejores prácticas de organización de base para el goce efectivo de derechos. [Dream about a decent life. The League of Displaced Women: A Case Study of best practices organization based on the full enjoyment of rights], PRIO Report, 7. Colombia: Universidad De Los Andes (Justica Global).
Lemaitre, Julieta; Eva Sol López; Juan Pablo Mosquera; Kristin Bergtora Sandvik; & Juliana Vargas Gómez (2014) De desplazados a víctimas. Los cambios legales y la participación de la Mesa de Víctimas de Mocoa, Putumayo. [Displaced victims. Legal changes and involvement of the Bureau of Victims of Mocoa, Putumayo.], PRIO Report, 8. Colombia: Universidad De Los Andes (Justica Global).
Lemaitre, Julieta; Kristin Bergtora Sandvik; Luz Estella Romero Villalba; Ana Manuela Ochoa Arias; Valentina González Villegas; & Sandra Vargas Mahecha (2014) Defensoras de derechos humanos Tres estudios de casos de ONG y su respuesta al desplazamiento forzado [Human rights defenders, Three studies of NGO's and response to forced displacement], PRIO Report, 9. Colombia: Universidad De Los Andes (Justica Global).

Conference Paper

Lidén, Kristoffer (2016) The Ethics of the Protection of Civilians: Beyond Intervention and Resilience, presented at The World Conference on Humanitarian Studies, Addis Ababa, 5 March.
Lohne, Kjersti (2016) Cosmopolitan legalism, criminal justice and human rights NGOs, presented at International Studies Association, Atlanta, 18 March.
Lohne, Kjersti & Anette Bringedal Houge (2016) The fight against impunity: The construction of a panacea for sexual violence in conflict?, presented at International Studies Association, Atlanta, 18 March.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2015) Drones for Humanitarian «Interventions», presented at Drones: From Technology to Policy, Security to Ethics, Zürich, 30.01.2015.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2015) Actors, agendas and legal categories in post-war Colombia. Armed Non State Actors and Access to Health in Armed Conflict, presented at Armed Non State Actors and Access to Health in Armed Conflict, Oslo, 12.02.2015.
Lidén, Kristoffer (2015) Oiling the Machinery of European Security Technology? The role of ethics in EU Security Research, presented at International Studies Association, Annual Convention , New Orleans, 21 Februrary 2015.
Lidén, Kristoffer (2015) What ‘society’ must be defended? The ethics of societal security in Norway, presented at Worlds of Violence: 9th Pan-European Conference on International Relations, European International Studies Association, Giardini Naxos, Sicily, Italy , 26 September.
Lidén, Kristoffer (2015) Luhmann goes to Juba: a systems theoretical perspective on the postliberal condition, presented at Worlds of Violence: 9th Pan-European Conference on International Relations, European International Studies Association, Giardini Naxos, Sicily, Italy , 26 September 2015.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2013) Drone Pilots, Humanitarians and the Videogame Analogy: Unpacking the ConversationTrondheim, 5–7 February.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2013) Fra dronekrig til UAV i det sivile luftrom - Globale trender og utfordringer Luftfartskonferansen 2013, Bodø.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora 2013Internasjonal rett og militariseringen av cyberspace, presented at Fokus: Cyberspace og sikkerhet.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora; & Lohne, Kjersti 2012 Technology Transfers from the Military to the Humanitarian Field: the Rise of the Humanitarian Drone, presented at Humanitarianism: Past, Present, Future, , .
Lidén, Kristoffer 2012 Recipe for Disaster: Violent Rebellion and Humanitarian Intervention, presented at Humanitarianism: past, present, future, , 8–10 November 2012.
Lidén, Kristoffer 2012 In Love with a Lie? On the Political Preconditions for Global Peacebuilding Governance, presented at New Frontiers for Peacebuilding: Hybridity, Governance, and Local Agency, , 13–14 September 2012.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora; & Lohne, Kjersti 2012 Robot Technology and the Drone Stare: Seeing or Unseeing Humanitarian Suffering?, presented at Political Theatres of Suffering: Humanitarian Politics and Representation of Distant Suffering, , .

PRIO Policy Brief

Tryggestad, Torunn L. (2016) The Women, Peace and Security Agenda – 15 Years On, GPS Policy Brief, 1. Oslo: PRIO.
Skjelsbæk, Inger; Nora Sveaass & Rikke Marie Gjerde Kvaale (2015) Therapeutic Prosecutions?, PRIO Policy Brief, 4. Oslo: PRIO.
Talleraas, Cathrine & Marta Bivand Erdal (2015) Contestations over National Identity and Diversity, PRIO Policy Brief, 10. Oslo: PRIO.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2012) Cyberwar as an Issue of International law, PRIO Policy Brief, 4. Oslo: PRIO.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2012) International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in the Global Legal Order, PRIO Policy Brief, 1. Oslo: PRIO.
Cohen, David (2007) War Crimes Tribunals and the Limits of Accountability, PRIO Policy Brief, 5. Oslo: PRIO.
Hartmann, Florence (2007) International Politics and International Criminal Justice, PRIO Policy Brief, 4. Oslo: PRIO.

PRIO Paper

Corney, Neil & Nicholas Marsh (2013) Aiming for Control: The need to include ammunition in the Arms Trade Treaty, PRIO Paper. Oslo: PRIO.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2012) Towards a Militarization of Cyberspace-Cyberwar as an Issue of International Law, PRIO Paper. Oslo: PRIO.

Report - Other

Ystehede, Per Jørgen; & Marit Fosse (2016) Global strafferett - en vestlig industri [Global criminal law - a western industry], Topical research interview. Department of Criminology and Sociology of Law, University of Oslo.
Lidén, Kristoffer; & Benjamen Hayes (2015) Report on human values in threat analysis, SOURCE Deliverables, 6.1. SOURCE Virtual Centre of Excellence For Research Support and Coordination on Societal Security.
Lidén, Kristoffer (2015) Ethics Report 1, SOURCE Deliverables, 2. SOURCE Virtual Centre of Excellence For Research Support and Coordination on Societal Security.

Blog Posts

Moral Readiness – Do We Speak too Little About it?

Posted by Henrik Syse on Friday, 22 July 2016

Five years have passed since the shocking events of 22 July 2011. We still notice how these events have taken hold of us. We notice it all the more when similar terrorist attacks take place elsewhere in the world: in Istanbul, Dallas or Nice. We shed tears in sympathy with the victims. And of course we fear for our own safety. One of the most important debates that follows in the wake of terrorism is the debate about readiness and security. The newspaper Dagbladet deserves credit for its active coverage of Norway’s state of readiness. What have we learnt? What has ...

A Sense of Community in Times of Terrorism

Posted by Rojan Tordhol Ezzati on Friday, 22 July 2016

In contrast to the impression one may derive from “the debate about the debate” in Norway, “we” – the overwhelming majority – can agree on many points, including the fact that we stand united in the struggle against extremism. We succeeded in doing so in the “rose marches” five years ago, and we can continue to do so now that the roses commemorating 22 July, 2011 have long since withered. In the wake of the terrorist attacks of 22 July, I wrote about “fragmentation in times of terrorism” [in Norwegian]. My message was that stigmatization and enemy images create and ...

Negotiating Collective Identities

Posted by Marta Bivand Erdal on Thursday, 21 July 2016

The 22 July attacks, now five years ago, bore horrific testimony to what an ideology of exclusion and hatred, at the hands of one man, can do. Whilst the terror was of such a scope that the moment called for a unified response, ideological cleavages along the Eurabia, anti-Islam, and anti-immigration lines soon re-emerged in public debate and on social media. Meanwhile, the conundrum of how collective identities and shared understandings of who ‘we’ are as a democratic society, post-22 July, remains. The reality of our multicultural, diverse society is lived on an everyday basis, though unequally distributed, across the ...

Receding into the Background?

Posted by Henrik Syse on Wednesday, 20 July 2016

As 22 July 2011 becomes a more distant memory, we are overwhelmed with massacres and terrorist attacks in other parts of the world, including fierce attacks in Turkey, France, and the United States. At the time of writing, the terrorist attack in Nice, France, is the most recent. Many of these attacks seem to be masterminded by the terrorist group ISIS, reflecting an extreme Islamist ideology and a wish to spread fear and terror in as many communities as possible. What does this do to our memory of 22 July? There are at least three possible paths that our thinking ...

Framing the UCLA Shooting Event

Posted by Francis Steen on Monday, 18 July 2016

Wednesday June 1st was my last day of Spring Quarter teaching at UCLA. At 9:50am, a BruinAlert trickled into my inbox announcing “Police Activity at Engineering Building 4. Avoid area until further notice” and a few minutes later “Shooting at Engineering 4. Go to secure location and deny entry (lockdown) now!” I did not notice, as I was busy preparing for my review lecture at 11:30am; I also did not see the flood of e-mails from students starting at 10am saying: “I just heard there’s a shooter loose on campus and I’m staying home”. At 10:15am, NBC interrupted its regular ...

Blair’s Global Vision – and Lacking Knowledge Base

Posted by Kristian Berg Harpviken on Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Tony Blair took the decision to take part in the military intervention in Iraq in 2003 more or less on his own, and based it on very scant knowledge. Are there reasons to fear the same happening again? The British Chilcot Commission has released a crushing verdict over former PM Tony Blair’s decision to stand side by side with the US in Iraq in 2003. How was it possible for such an important decision to be taken without serious consideration of its long-term consequences? Prior to the presentation of the Commission’s report, John Chilcot expressed that its aim was to ...

The Right to Decide: Exit and Basque Self-Determination

Posted by Åshild Kolås on Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Five years ago, the Basque militant group ETA (Basque Homeland and Freedom) announced a unilateral and permanent cessation of operations. Since then, the disappearance of political violence has given rise to a new debate on Basque nationhood: more inclusive, more open, more civic, and at the same time stronger in its affirmation of the legitimacy of popular sovereignty and the democratic demand to exercise ‘the right to decide’, as against the earlier radicalism of immediate independence. A new book edited by Pedro Ibarra Güell and Åshild Kolås, Basque Nationhood Towards a Democratic Scenario, takes stock of the contemporary re-imagining of ...

Syria Travellers and Security Threats

Posted by Åshild Kolås & Katrine Fangen on Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Foreign fighters returning from Syria have emerged as a looming security threat in many European countries, so also in Norway. As well as preventive measures against radicalization and mobilization by the Islamic State, there have been calls for the withdrawal of citizenship and deportation of returned foreign fighters. This raises a number of questions. Are Norwegians more secure if we send potential terrorists out of the country? Is this even feasible, if Norway wants to stay within the ‘border-free’ Europe? What are the trade-offs between security and civil rights to citizenship, and how can they best be balanced? Is citizenship essentially something that needs to be earned, or is ...

Norway and Kenya Prepare for Forceful Returns of Somalis

Posted by Anab Ibrahim Nur on Sunday, 12 June 2016

As the blessed month of Ramadan begins, many here in Mogadishu are concerned about the security situation, with talks of increased numbers of Al-Shabaab insurgents entering the city in preparation of carrying out attacks. Driving through the Makka Al Mukram road, considered to be in the safe zone, that is, in the government controlled area, you will see the destruction and havoc that was caused by Al-Shabaab less than a week ago. They attacked the Ambassador Hotel, which resulted not only in the deaths of two prominent members of the Federal Parliament, but countless civilians. The government claims that the ...

The ‘Sovereign’ according to Ola Tunander

Posted by Åshild Kolås on Monday, 30 May 2016

On Friday 27 May 2016, PRIO celebrated Ola Tunander’s 30-year academic career with a seminar on ‘Sovereignty, Subs and PSYOPS’, and a reception. The celebration was, of course, focused on Ola and his work, spanning topics from the geopolitics and organic state theory of Rudolf Kjellén to the 27 October 1981 ‘Whiskey on the Rocks’ submarine crash in the Swedish Archipelago. Obviously, sovereignty was a key topic of the seminar, and is arguably also the critical theme of Ola’s work. As a digital footnote to the seminar, and a distillation of the ‘sovereign’ according to Ola Tunander, here are some ...

Brought Up to Be a War Criminal

Posted by Kjersti Lohne & Anette Bringedal Houge on Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Dominic Ongwen has been charged with committing the same crimes that were committed against him as a child soldier in the Lord’s Resistance Army. To what extent is Ongwen responsible for his actions as an adult, given that he himself was abducted as a 10-year-old child? The International Criminal Court in The Hague is to determine the answer to this question. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has recently confirmed 70 charges against Dominic Ongwen for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Ongwen is accused of committing these crimes as a member of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). During over ...

Assisted Return Not a Permanent Solution for All Asylum Seekers

Posted by Arne Strand & Lovise Aalen on Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Many asylum seekers who choose assisted return are from a country destroyed by war and conflict. More than half of those who return to countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq plan to migrate again. Assisted return is a viable type of support to assist with the return, but is not sufficient to prevent large numbers of people once again leaving insecure countries of return. Only minor changes are required, however, to increase the potential for permanent return. One important political objective in Norway is to encourage asylum seekers who do not have a valid residence permit to return to their ...

The EU-Turkey Refugee Deal is Costly – Especially for the Refugees

Posted by Pinar Tank & Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert on Thursday, 7 April 2016

The agreement reflects the EU’s self-interest just as much as Turkey’s, but takes little account of the interests and rights of the refugees. On Friday 18 March, Turkey and the EU concluded a deal designed to put an end to refugees’ use of the sea route to travel from Turkey to Greece, because the route is costing too many lives, and because the EU and Turkey want to get the flood of refugees under control. The majority of the refugees and migrants who have arrived in Europe in recent months have travelled via this route. The EU’s website claims that ...

The Iranian Nuclear Issue

Posted by Gregory M. Reichberg on Thursday, 18 February 2016

I have been tracking the Iranian nuclear issue for about ten years. Important in its own right, this issue also has significant implications for the international agenda on nuclear weapons disarmament. Let it be noted at the outset that the expression in question – “Iranian Nuclear Issue” – is a freighted one; it suggests the problem rested squarely with Iran, that the other countries involved (the P5 + 1 or more accurately the E3+3) were responding to a problem of Iranian making. Things were never so simple, as the issue was as much or perhaps even more a European and especially ...

Why Not Nuke ISIS?

Posted by Gregory M. Reichberg on Friday, 4 December 2015

Last week I received a call from a journalist doing background research for an article.  The journalist wanted to know whether I thought a nuclear weapon could be used against ISIS. I was admittedly surprised at this question.  But apparently the journalist queried me about this issue because others are asking about it as well. So why not nuke ISIS? First we must consider why this “alternative” is being considered at all. Unlike al Qaeda, ISIS controls a large swath of territory in Syria and Iraq, including two large cities, Raqqa and Mosul. Previously it was thought that nuclear threats ...

What’s Wrong with the Idea that ‘Robots don’t Rape’?

Posted by Kristin B. Sandvik & Kjersti Lohne on Wednesday, 2 December 2015

The politics of rape denunciation is fast becoming the politics of lobbyists, vendors and military manufacturers seeking access to new customers and markets. The recognition of wartime rape as a fundamental violation of international law has been a hard-fought victory. Ending rape and other forms of sexual violence in war ought to be a central aspiration of the international community. But the struggle against rape has attained a kind of moral currency, put to use by those lobbying for ‘lethal autonomous weapons’ (LAWs). And in doing so, the politics of rape denunciation is fast becoming the politics of lobbyists, vendors ...

How Much Should we Tolerate?

Posted by Henrik Syse on Friday, 27 November 2015

In his New Year’s Eve speech last year, King Harald used the expression “We should say kind words”. Some weeks later, many of us were saying “Je suis Charlie”, expressing solidarity with a periodical that published satire that many people certainly found was not kind at all. Can we reconcile these sentiments? Yes, I believe so. Where we stand in the debate about freedom of expression and the responsibility that comes with that freedom will often depend upon which side of the debate we are arguing from. A person who is fearful that freedom of expression is under attack in ...

We are being Put to the Test

Posted by Henrik Syse on Wednesday, 9 September 2015

We must both take in refugees and preserve our culture and way of living. A flood of migrants is coming to Europe. They are fleeing chaos and war. They are from all levels of society. The vast majority would have remained in their homelands if they had been able. But as a result of violence, political ineptitude and ideological tugs-of-war, combined with Western policy that has basically been a failure, the situation has become hopeless. They see no other option than to flee. Our openness and generosity are being put to the test. Turning our backs or making unrealistic assertions ...

Lethal Autonomous Weapons: Killing the ‘Robots-don’t-Rape’ Argument

Posted by Kristin B. Sandvik & Kjersti Lohne on Thursday, 13 August 2015

Earlier this spring, we debated a law professor who insisted that lethal autonomous weapons (LAWS) could clean up war. The professor posited that a war fought with autonomous weapons would be a war without rape. Taking humans out of the loop would, the argument goes, lead to more humane war. We find this narrative, where technological innovation is equated with human progress based on the assumption that it will end the occurrence of rape in war, highly problematic. We have since reflected on what this ‘progress narrative’ is about and how we as a scholars should approach this type of ...

The Important Debates – Four Years Later

Posted by Henrik Syse on Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Four years have passed since the biggest terror attacks on Norwegian soil during peacetime. Once again we are solemnly commemorating the dead and expressing our solidarity. The debate about the potential uses of the actual sites that were affected is also very much alive and continuing. But are there other debates that we also need to have? Our research for the NECORE project focuses on discourses, negotiations, identity and resilience in Norwegian society after the terror attacks of 22 July 2011. In our research, we consider among other things the four important debates described below – and different ways of ...

From IDPs to Victims in Colombia: Transition from Humanitarian Crisis through Law Reform?

Posted by Kristin B. Sandvik & Julieta Lemaitre on Wednesday, 1 July 2015

What are the challenges of responding to displacement as a problem of transitional justice? In the Colombian context, pervasive violent conflict coexists with constitutional democracy. In recent years, the legal framework for dealing with internal displacement has been altered by the 2011 Victims’ Law. Based on newly published work on Colombia, this blog post discusses the changing conditions for displaced women’s legal mobilization. Imposing the rule of law in post-conflict situations has often been seen as a means of filling normative voids that both enable and result from conflict. Colombia offers a unique opportunity to reflect critically on how progressive ...

Therapeutic Prosecutions?

Posted by Inger Skjelsbæk, Nora Sveaass & Rikke Marie Gjerde Kvale on Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Assessing the therapeutic potential of criminal prosecution of international crimes at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Over the past twenty years, the global community has shown a renewed commitment to the pursuit of international criminal justice. A hallmark development in this regard is the establishment of the permanent International Criminal Court (ICC). A central asset of the court is victim and witness participation, based on an assumption that this approach will benefit those who have been affected by the crimes and their communities. In a recent policy brief we explore the therapeutic potential and pitfalls of this approach based on ...

Beyond Sexual Violence: Gendered Political Insecurity as a Threat to Peace

Posted by Kristin B. Sandvik & Julieta Lemaitre on Monday, 13 April 2015

Based on extensive field research in Colombia, our new article “Beyond Sexual Violence in Transitional Justice: Political Insecurity as a Gendered Harm” examines political insecurity as a specifically gendered harm that must be addressed in the ongoing Colombian transitional justice process. In a previous blogpost we described the tragic plight of the women’s rights activist and survivor of sexual violence Angélica Bello. Bello was one of the main proponents of Law 18 June 2014, which sets out to guarantee access to justice for victims of sexual violence. The Law is part of the transitional justice process and seeks to bring ...

The Hitler Analogy

Posted by Henrik Syse on Thursday, 9 April 2015

The Hitler analogy – also known as the Munich analogy – is deployed frequently in political debate. In Munich in 1938, the British prime minister made the historic error of failing to comprehend the extent of the evil represented by Adolf Hitler. Chamberlain signed a peace agreement with Hitler that Hitler never honoured and that gave Hitler reason to believe that he would not encounter resistance. As Winston Churchill famously said, “You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour and you will have war.” The point of the Hitler analogy is thus that we must not ...

Legality and Courtesy

Posted by Trond Bakkevig on Friday, 30 January 2015

In his opinion article in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten on 21 January, Per Edgar Kokkvold (secretary general in the Norwegian Press Association) stated the obvious, “It is people who must be protected – and who are protected under current legislation, under the law that prohibits discriminatory or hateful utterances, persecution or insults based on religion or belief. But here it is the individual person who is protected, not the religion. Religions and beliefs must be open to insult.” This is the position under Norwegian law, and this is the position that Norwegian politicians – and the Church of Norway – ...

After Charlie Hebdo: We Must Never Cease to Protect the Rights of People who Provoke and Challenge

Posted by Henrik Syse on Thursday, 15 January 2015

Why do satirists and critics of religion have to be so provocative? Why must they publish images that they know to be offensive to some people’s beliefs and traditions – and that brutal extremists may use as a pretext for terrorist acts? That such questions are asked is understandable. But for many reasons they must be answered with a solid defence of the freedom of expression. In the wake of the terrorist acts in Paris, let us take a moment to remind ourselves of some of the most important reasons why this is so: The backbone of a free society ...

The Road to Hell is Paved With Rapid Reactions

Posted by Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh on Wednesday, 14 January 2015

In the wake of a vicious crime, caution and restraint are a virtue. Once upon a time, in the realm of Xanadu, two and a half dim-witted but well-armed, well-funded and well-trained professional criminals committed cold-blooded murder, commando-style. While committing their crime, they uttered two sentences vocally and publically, following their script to a T. First they cried/lied: “Allah o Akbar.” Obviously, anyone who takes the sacred life of another human being either does not believe in God, or tries to be God himself, in which case he is a lunatic. But the citizens of Xanadu took their words literally ...

Who is Charlie? And What Now?

Posted by Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert on Tuesday, 13 January 2015

On Sunday 11 January France witnessed the largest rally on records of people taking to the streets with close to 4 million people all over the country, of which almost 1,5 million in Paris. The world saw one of the largest gatherings of state leaders in one place outside of those we witness during the annual UN General Assemblies, in what was reportedly a nightmare for the security services. Prior to this, the social media sphere saw one of the largest spreads of a hashtag, with more than 3,4 million #jesuischarlie in less than 24 hours. So who is this ...

Norway's Outdated Citizenship Legislation

Posted by Marta Bivand Erdal & Tove Heggli Sagmo on Monday, 20 October 2014

The war in Syria, the threat of Islamic radicalisation, and fears that terrorists may recruit Norwegian citizens have sparked renewed debate about Norway’s citizenship legislation. Meanwhile, another debate continues to be forgotten: We call for a reopening of the debate on dual citizenship, as Norway’s antiquated legislation is out of step with that of its Nordic neighbours. Both debates are important, and both should be addressed now. But these are two separate debates. A U-turn in Denmark This summer Denmark decided to permit dual citizenship. This means that Norway is the only Nordic country to persist in banning it. A ...

"Double Effect" in Gaza

Posted by Henrik Syse on Thursday, 21 August 2014

Recent weeks have shown us – yet again – how complex and terrible war is. We can all agree that terrorism and brutal fanaticism must be met with robust responses. But it is easy to say that one must do “something” (not to mention that one must do “more”). When we have to specify what that “something” or “more” should be, things immediately become more difficult. Thinkers concerned with the “just war” doctrine have made many attempts to structure this debate, as it relates to use of armed force, and put it on a sound ethical footing. When considering the ...

The Limits of post-22 July Media Debates

Posted by Tine Ustad Figenschou & Kjersti Thorbjørnsrud on Friday, 27 June 2014

In times of crisis, citizens and victims typically look to the government for leadership, protection, direction, and order – what is often characterized as a ‘master narrative’. Faced with terror and tragedy journalists seek to comfort and reassure the public, and willingly and instinctively move from their professional, neutral critical role towards a pastoral role. Based on in-depth research interviews with key debate editors and political editors in national, regional, and niche media, we are interested in how the Oslo attacks have been discussed in Norwegian newspaper and television news: what aspects of the tragedy have been investigated, and perhaps ...

Has Much Time Gone By?

Posted by Henrik Syse on Friday, 27 June 2014

One of the most famous anecdotes about the passing of time is from the early 1970s, when Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai was asked what he thought about the French Revolution, to which he replied: ‘It is too early to say’. The fact that the interpreter has later pointed out that Zhou probably thought the question was about the student revolt of just a few years earlier (which in China was talked about as ‘the Revolution in France’) should not blind us to the underlying quandary with which the story presents us: When is it possible, from a historical, sociological, or ...

On Distance and Proximity

Posted by Rojan Tordhol Ezzati on Thursday, 31 October 2013

On July 22nd 2011, I was home from work when I heard a loud blast. It sounded like thunder. Strange that I had not seen any lightning, with a sound this loud, I thought before carrying on with household chores. Half an hour later I took a break, logging onto Facebook. ‘Explosion in Oslo, it’s on TV2!’, a friend’s status said. The TV images seemed unreal. There were familiar images of places I frequently passed, shred into the unrecognizable. The police was asking journalists and others to evacuate the area – in my language, not a foreign language spoken by ...

The Ethics in Free Speech

Posted by Henrik Syse & Odin Lysaker on Wednesday, 30 October 2013

”This is moralism‘, we were told after having published an op-ed in one of the largest Norwegian newspapers, Aftenposten, in June 2013. This reaction made us even more curious about whether ethics is of any relevance to citizens’ freedom of expression. In our view, the critique is due to the confusion between what is normally understood as the ‘ethical’ and the ‘moral’. If so addressed, our claim is that the practice of the Norwegian free speech law should be supplemented by ethics, which we take to be rather the opposite of ‘moralism’. Nevertheless, in order to find out more about ...

Ethical Challenges of Internet Research on 22/7

Posted by Mareile Kaufmann on Tuesday, 25 June 2013

For my research on post-22/7 resilience and social media, I am drawing on data sources from the internet. Even though this data is publicly available, there are several ethical issues to be considered. A core controversy of internet-based research is the definition of public and private space: speakers may assume privacy online, which is not necessarily the case. Due to the use of screen names, it is for example impossible to guarantee that data was not produced by minors. In order to protect research subjects, it would seem feasible to consistently anonymize data. Some speakers, on the other hand, consider ...