December 28, 2015
Thusfar this blog has largely avoided some of the “big” current issues in international law, especially the Iraq war, for a number of reasons — in part because it is such a divisive issue but also because the law surrounding the field is in flux. But here I wanted to note that not only are US soldiers and untold Iraqis dying on a regular basis, but so are many civil servants, international humanitarian workers, lawyers, reporters, diplomats and others who were very dedicated to their respective causes. And this is true all over the world, where people, international/foreign and domestic, die or are killed on a regular basis just trying to establish what they hope will be a better life/country/world/etc.
This thought was triggered by looking at the NDI website, in which there is a memorial for Andrea “Andi” Parhamovich and three security personel. Just a little reminder that while academic debates abound, there are also people “on the ground” trying to do what they feel is right, and this is as true in international law (broadly defined) as in anywhere else. And this is coupled with daily sacrifices by so many people, from standing up to authority and risking lives and careers, or moving to difficult posts, to working hard, often in anonymity, on imporant causes and issues from human rights to development to international law to “simple” peace long after celebrities or the press have moved on. Even the ultimate sacrifice is often underreported and even untracked, especially for those working outside of major institutions. We have daily updates on military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, which of course we should have. And there is a huge debate on the number of Iraqi civilian deaths, another key figure, and the loss of life of anyone is no less tragic just because of the country of origin. But it strikes me as truly odd that we rarely see any detailed reporting or tracking of US or international civilian deaths in Iraq or Afghanistan. This cite seems to make an effort to track deaths and injuries of many parties (and I cannot vouch for its accuracy in any way), but it acknowledges being far from complete, especially for non-military deaths.
One might not agree with everyone “on the ground”, and an important part of academia, the press, the public discourse, the blogosphere, and other sources is to evaluate, critique, and hopefully improve the work on the ground and the larger issues/goals/etc. that are being sought, and even challenge and question what those goals should be. But the sacrifices people make should be appreciated and remembered.