Webinar: The Dispensable Lives of Military-Working Dogs on the Battlefield: The Quagmire of their Legal Status under International Humanitarian Law

Date Wednesday 16 September 2020
Time 2pm - 3pm
Where Zoom (Once you have registered you will receive a Zoom URL link to join the online event with a passcode)
Presenter Dr Anna Marie Brennan
Contact Olive Zhong
Contact email
Admission Cost Free

They were the only four-foots who could be trusted to do a piece of work strictly ‘on their own’. Each one knew his job and did it, not because he was made to, but because of the love which is the impelling motive for everything a free dog does for a man - Ernest Harold Baynes, Animal Heroes of the Great War

Since ancient times, animals have played a pivotal role in military operations but international humanitarian law has thus far side-stepped any precise delineation of their precise legal protections on the battlefield. Dogs in particular have proven themselves indispensable during warfare. From acting as guards, bomb detectors, messengers, load bearers carrying weapons to directly attacking enemy troops on command military dogs are highly valuable and cooperative during warfare. While the contribution dogs have made to military operations is gaining wider recognition in society it is unclear what protections are afforded to them under international humanitarian law. Military-working dogs can be injured and killed not only when they are actively participating in hostilities but also as a secondary consequence of attacks on other objectives. Yet, international humanitarian law is mostly silent on the matter of their protection and focuses for the most part on the protection of humans. This paper considers the legal status of military animals under international humanitarian law. It will find that the current classification of military-working dogs as equipment is inherently problematic since it limits the extent of armed forces’ obligations towards them before, during and after hostilities. This paper will thus propose a re-imagining of the combatant/civilian distinction to include a new category of ‘animal members of armed forces.”

Eventbrite registration is required to attend - Once you have registered you will receive a Zoom URL link to join the online event with a passcode