The Blurred Battlefield

The Blurred Battlefield
May 06, 2021

On Tuesday, May 4, as part of the 2021 Webinar Series, Professor Pat Paterson presented his new book, The Blurred Battlefield: The Perplexing Conflation of Humanitarian and Criminal Law in Contemporary Conflicts, published by the Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) Press in March 2021.

In a presentation before more than 80 online participants, Professor Paterson explained that the book examines three important issues: (1) the nature of contemporary warfare, (2) rules on the use of force, and (3) Special Operations Forces (SOF) role in security cooperation efforts. In his remarks, he provided explanations of the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC), criminal law, and human rights (HR) law, highlighted the differences between the fields of law, and examined U.S. security cooperation policy. Professor Paterson spoke about why operating conditions in many Latin American countries are so complex: levels of violence and crime have forced governments in the region to deploy the military to support or replace the police. However, soldiers are normally trained in the law of armed conflict (LOAC), not police tactics that require much more restraint. He also described the distinctions between LOAC and criminal law, particularly on important issues like lethal force, escalation of force tactics, and detention. Last, he touched on the four case studies in The Blurred Battlefield: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico. In each case, the militaries and governments have attempted to navigate the very complex operating environment by developing hybrid doctrines as they battle heavily armed, violent criminals.

This was the first of a series of two webinars on The Blurred Battlefield. The second will be held on Thursday, May 20 and will be conducted entirely in Spanish.  Link to registration for the May 20 webinar "Derecho humanitario y penal en los conflictos contemporáneos" can be found below.

Perry Center professor Dr. William Godnick moderated the event.