Annual James Muiruri Lecture: Non-Binding Norms in the Law of Armed Conflict

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Event details

Wednesday 17 May 2023
Free to attend, Both online and in person.


The Sheffield Centre for International and European Law has invited Professor Emily Crawford from the University of Sydney, Law School to give a lecture on "Non-Binding Norms in the Law of Armed Conflict: The End of a Golden Age?"

Presentation Title: Non-Binding Norms in the Law of Armed Conflict: The End of a Golden Age?

Date of event: Wednesday 17 May 2023

Event Time: 2-5pm

Speaker: Professor Emily Crawford (University of Sydney, Law School)

Event Location: Hybrid

  • Bartolomé House (DB13), Winter Street, Sheffield, S3 7ND
  • Online link will be sent to those that book the morning of the event.

Whilst it is helpful if you use the Eventbrite to indicate in advance if you are attending, you are also very welcome to turn up in-person on the day of the event and without pre-booking. You will need to pre-book the online attendance though as we will need to know where to send the joining link. For online bookings you will be sent an email with the joining link the morning of the event.

All SCIEL members, staff, students and public members are invited to attend this seminar.

Bio: Emily Crawford is a Professor at the University of Sydney Law School, where she teaches and researches in international law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law. She has published widely in the field of international humanitarian law, including three monographs (The Treatment of Combatants and Insurgents under the Law of Armed Conflict (OUP 2010),Identifying the Enemy: Civilian Participation in Hostilities (OUP 2015) and Non-Binding Norms in International Humanitarian Law: Efficacy, Legitimacy and Legality (OUP 2021)) and a textbook (International Humanitarian Law (with Alison Pert, 2nd edition, CUP 2020)). She is an associate of the Sydney Centre for International Law at the University of Sydney, and a co-editor of the Journal of International Humanitarian Studies.

Event Abstract

Non-Binding Norms in the Law of Armed Conflict: The End of a Golden Age?

In the last 30 years, there has been a proliferation of non-binding instruments (NBIs) in the field of the law of armed conflict (LOAC, also known as international humanitarian law or IHL). During the 'hey day' of these instruments - between 2004-2020, around 15 instruments were produced that aimed to guide State and non-State practice in areas such as cyber war, air and missile warfare, the use of private military and security contractors, and peace-keeping operations. For a period of time, it looked like non-binding instruments were become the standard for creating new norms in IHL. However, in the last few years, notable attempts at creating non-binding instruments have stalled and, in some cases, fallen apart completely. Drawing on research previously published in my book Non-Binding Norms in International Humanitarian Law: Efficacy, Legitimacy and Legality (OUP 2021), I will examine possible causes for this seeming turn around in the "fortunes" of NBIs and explore whether soft law instruments have had their day in IHL.

About the Annual James Muiruri Lecture

The annual lecture is named after Dr James Muiruri, one of Sheffield School of Law’s former PhD students, who was tragically killed in Kenya in January 2009 only a couple of months after completing his doctoral studies. His thesis was entitled ‘African Regional Peace and Security Under the AU’s Constitutional Framework: Conflict or Compatibility Within the UN and International Law’.

The Dr. James Muiruri Foundation, established in James’s memory, was founded to bring the youth of Kenya together in an effort to increase opportunity for children with the greatest of needs. Find out more at


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