Air strikes are the signature modality of violence used by NATO militaries. When civilian victims of NATO air strikes have turned to courts in NATO countries, they have generally not been successful. What are the legal techniques and legal knowledges deployed in Western courts that render Western aerial violence legal or extralegal? The article analyzes the responses by European courts to two sets of NATO bombings: the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia and a September 2009 air strike near Kunduz, Afghanistan. The judgments rely on two forms of legal technicalities: the drawing of jurisdictional boundaries that exclude the airspace taken up by the bombers and the ground on which victims stood when they were killed as well as particular visual regimes that facilitate not seeing people on the ground as civilians.

armed conflict, civilians, international humanitarian law, jurisdiction, technologies, visibility, visuality
dx.doi.org/10.1017/cls.2019.15
Canadian Journal of Law and Society
Department of Law and Legal Studies

Wilke, C. (2019). High Altitude Legality: Visuality and Jurisdiction in the Adjudication of NATO Air Strikes. In Canadian Journal of Law and Society (Vol. 34, pp. 261–280). doi:10.1017/cls.2019.15