Perfidy at the Binary Stars

USS Shenzhou Ship's Lawyer's log, stardate 1207.3 (cont'd):

We're engaged with the Klingons. We were attacked and can legally defend our ship, our fleet, and our space, so all of my "use of force under interstellar law" arguments are now moot. I became a lawyer for Starfleet so that I could help promote understanding and prevent disasters like this from happening. I've seen too much violence, too many deaths.

These Klingons are terrible. Cmdr. Burnham's assessment was clearly correct, they only want a battle. Captain Georgiou started the interaction with our classic "we come in peace," which they apparently ignored. Then Admiral Anderson warped in on the Europa and offered a ceasefire. The Klingon leader accepted it, and then RAMMED the Europa with their giant cloaked ship!

This kind of thing has been outlawed by just about every sentient species that I know of. Even if the Klingons haven't specifically followed it, there is no doubt in my mind that enough species have banned this sort of action that it would be considered to be an interstellar custom. And since interstellar law is premised on, among other things, interstellar custom, the Klingons are violating interstellar law. A salient example of this custom is from Earth. There, it's called "perfidy," and has been banned under various Hague Conventions,1 and the Geneva Conventions of 1949, 1977 and the Geneva Protocol of 2155.2 The text has changed little since the 1949 version:

       "1. It is prohibited to kill, injure or capture an adversary by resort to perfidy. Acts inviting the confidence of an adversary to lead him to believe that he is entitled to, or is obliged to accord, protection under the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, with intent to betray that confidence, shall constitute perfidy. The following acts are examples of perfidy:
       (a) The feigning of an intent to negotiate under a flag of truce or of a surrender;...
       (d) The feigning of protected status by the use of signs, emblems or uniforms of the United Federation of Planets or of neutral or other Planets, or interstellar entities not Parties to the conflict."
          2. Ruses of war are not prohibited. Such ruses are acts which are intended to mislead an adversary or to induce him to act recklessly but which infringe no rule of international law applicable in armed conflict and which are not perfidious because they do not invite the confidence of an adversary with respect to protection under that law. The following are examples of such ruses: the use of camouflage, decoys, mock operations and misinformation."3

When the same law sticks around for a while, it's a good indication that it is still in effect. When that same law is applied by different species around the galaxy, it shows that it is interstellar custom. Accepting an offer of truce and then attacking clearly violates Section 1(a). And using a cloaked ship to ram another ship clearly violates Section 2. However, the Romulan war started in 2156 (the year after the Geneva Conventions were updated), and they used cloaking devices. I guess, since we fought them to a standstill, rather than ultimate defeat, we couldn't enforce a law of war treaty that they didn't care about. Hopefully, we can beat the Klingons better than we did the Romulans. When we do, we'll enforce this interstellar legal custom and make them pay! All of this seems moot, though, as I sit here at my "battle" station in a ship that is almost destroyed. 

On a personal note: I find it obnoxious that I'm sidelined during battle, especially when it involves close combat aboard the enemy ship. I guess they just see me as a nerdy Starfleet lawyer, and don't remember my past career. At least not as vividly as I do...

I guess I'll focus my mental energy on how I can help Cmdr. Burnham. I still think that she was in the right. Plus, it looks like she is on good terms with the Captain now. She's out of the brig and the two are beaming aboard the Klingon ship.

1 See inter alia The 1907 Hague Convention, IV The Laws and Customs of War on Land, Art. 23. 
2 2155 Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 17 January, 1949, Article 37. 
3 Id.


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