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I am delighted to be here today to honor Ed Cummings, a wonderful colleague and a source of great wisdom for so many of us. I first worked with Ed in the Legal Adviser's Office in the late 1980s. More than fifteen years later, Ed is still the person I turn to for insight on the most difficult issues in the law of armed conflict. Most memorably of all, while serving at the National Security Council in 1999, I worked closely with Ed in achieving an important treaty milestone: the Procotol restricting the use of child soldiers in armed conflict (the Child Soldier Protocol). Ed was the person who first saw the potential for a diplomatic compromise that became the essence of the treaty: namely, allowing voluntary recruitment of seventeen year olds into national armed forces (an important equity for the United States) but barring their deployment into active participation in hostilities prior to the age of eighteen. This compromise allowed for an international agreement that put the spotlight where it ought to be-on prohibiting the forced recruitment and deployment of underage kids-while also setting a clear age-eighteen standard for participation in hostilities.

Ed's efforts over many years to achieve this result illustrate several characteristics of his work as a lawyer that I admire most: his savvy understanding of how legal rules work in complex and difficult circumstances; his appreciation for how sensible legal frameworks can safeguard U.S. security interests and advance U.S. values (such as humanity in warfare) in a dangerous world; and his diplomatic skill in finding reasonable common ground that protects U.S. equities while taking into account the perspectives and legitimate concerns of others.

These virtues (practical savvy, appreciation of the value of sensible legal rules, and a capacity to find reasonable common ground) are just what we need today for thinking through the current challenges to the jus ad bellum-the legal framework governing the resort to force.

Publication Citation

38 Geo. Wash. Int'l L. Rev. 561-575