The Law(s) of Conflict and Disaster

Incidences of conflict and disaster penetrate all regions of the globe. Whether international or internal, natural or human-made, their effects are both profound and life-changing. While regulation of the use of lawful force has a long history, the politics of war, and the rapid developments brought by technological developments, are challenging traditional frameworks and understandings. Relative to the law of conflict, disaster law is a nascent concept, but one which demands our urgent attention. Moreover, the reality of multiple and overlapping incidences of conflict and disaster call for closer examination of the interconnectedness, and possible convergences, of the various legal regimes that regulate them.

In this context, law is often called upon to react swiftly to emergency and change, yet it is also simultaneously required to deal with the seeming intractability and permanence experienced by those affected. Indeed, the human cost is plain to see, with forced migration a defining aspect of our time. The law is therefore under sustained pressure to adapt in response to an ever-evolving reality. It is in this context that the socio-legal community has a vital role to play in the critical examination and interrogation of this complex and contentious area of law(s).

In this current topic, we will engage with the innumerable legal, social and political issues that arise in times of conflict and/or disaster. As well as inviting papers on the newer legal challenges of disaster preparedness, response and non-conventional means of conflict, we also welcome those questioning the role of ‘traditional’ legal regimes, such as human rights, international criminal law, and IHL. Papers may provide insights from the international, regional or domestic levels, and can approach such questions from a socio-legal, doctrinal, theoretical or empirical angle. Papers that speak to the lived experience of conflict and/or disaster are also particularly welcome.


Amal Ali (, Ben Hudson ( and Scarlett McArdle (

Correspondence should be directed to Ben Hudson in the first instance.