Law and Political-Military Strategy: The Importance of Legal Advice in the Decision to Deploy the Canadian Armed Forces
Consideration of relevant political and military operational factors is central to a decision to deploy the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) on a military mission abroad, but deployments also present strategic legal risk. This chapter presents and briefly discusses two classes of legal issues that must be identified and resolved in Canadian deployment decisions. First, and accepting that the default rule in international law is that military interference in foreign states is illegal, under what international law authority would Canada deploy troops to the territory of another state? The three most commonly relied upon exceptions to the general rule are raised. Second, if and when the military is deployed, what international law will apply to its personnel and operations? The applicability of international human rights law and the law of armed conflict—or humanitarian law—is discussed. This second issue is in turn connected to the key question of whether Canada, through the conduct of its anticipated operations, might become a party to an armed conflict. Ultimately, are deployed Canadians at risk of being considered lawful targets? And what are the legal factors that might influence the choice of military tactics?
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