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Exercising the right authority during belligerent occupation: The Authority of the Coalition Provisional Authority of occupied Iraq

Conference contribution
Authors Matilda Arvidsson
Published in International Studies Association (ISA) Annuam Convention 2018, San Fransisco
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Law
Language en
Keywords belligerent occupation; authority; occupation of Iraq; the international law of belligerent occupation; Coalition Provisional Authority
Subject categories International law


In the wake of the Iraq war the US-UK headed Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) was set up to govern Iraq for the duration of the occupation. Although it is not an obligation under the international law of belligerent occupation to set up a separate administrative body for governance during occupation it is, as Yoram Dinstein puts it, ‘a sensible step’. Resulting from a largely functional approach to governance during occupation the legal and political configuration of the CPA raised a number of fundamental questions regarding the sources of its authority to exercise judicial, legislative, and executive authority in Iraq for the duration of the occupation. While it is clear that ‘coalition’ refers to the shared responsibilities of the two countries heading the occupation – the US and the UK – and ‘provisional’ refers to the temporal aspect of governance, it is less clear what ‘authority’ denotes in the given context. Previous research on the CPA has focused primarily on the failure of success and the legality of the largely transformative CPA legal acts, reviewing these as exceeding what the international law of belligerent occupation permits an occupying power to do. My contribution to this discussion is a shift in focus from this particular kind of ‘legality’ (as only refereeing to the contemporary IHL framework) to instead consider the authority exercised by the CPA within the broader context of right and legitimate authority. To this effect I ask what kind of provisional authority the CPA exercised in Iraq, on which grounds, pursuant to which criteria, and to what ends?

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Utskriftsdatum: 2019-09-19