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Abstract

This Article explicates the international legal framework governing State action against transnational crime; it also explores the disparity in what international law permits military actors to do in situations of armed conflict versus what actions civilians may undertake in the course of extraterritorial law enforcement operations. This Article argues that the trend of militarization in the U.S. approach to transnational crime law is, in part, a function of this legal disparity and that this trend could be reversed a degree if international law recognized a greater degree of flexibility for certain limited categories of extraterritorial law enforcement actions by civilian entities. To that end, it is argued that permitting such an exception would simultaneously promote 1) policies of refocusing the military on war-fighting by limiting its role in combating transnational crime and 2) rights-based approaches and government transparency by addressing transnational criminality in a way that comports with constitutional due process and international human rights norms. Otherwise stated, permitting greater latitude in the international legal framework for extraterritorial law enforcement activities conducted by civilians—especially for those activities occurring in areas where there is effectively no sovereign capable or willing to take action—would benefit military readiness while contemporaneously promoting human rights and the rule of law.

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