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The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law Working Paper Series

Comparative and Foreign Law

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Occupation Failures And The Legality Of Armed Conflict: The Case Of Iraqi Cultural Property, Mary Ellen O'Connell Dec 2004

Occupation Failures And The Legality Of Armed Conflict: The Case Of Iraqi Cultural Property, Mary Ellen O'Connell

The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law Working Paper Series

US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld dismissed the looting of the Iraqi National Museum in April 2003 by remarking, “stuff happens.” In doing so, he gave an early indication that in planning to invade Iraq, the Bush Administration failed to take seriously the legal obligations of an occupying power. Occupying powers have a variety of binding legal obligations, including obligations to stop looting, protect cultural property, and protect persons in detention. Yet, the Administration sent a wholly inadequate force to fulfill those obligations, and, more seriously, the force received no direct and imperative orders to do so. As a result ...