War Crimes in the Star Wars Universe: Episode VI

SKU: INT2900

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About This Course

The third and final installment of the Star Wars original trilogy offers a wealth of fascinating scenes for a law-of-war analysis, led by a former war crimes prosecutor. The film opens with Leia and then Luke Skywalker confronting Jabba the Hutt. Is this an act of unconventional warfare? Does the law of armed conflict even apply?

When the Rebels find out about the new Death Star, they decide to target its shield generator on a moon called Endor. In the process, they convince the teddy bear-like natives, the Ewoks, that the Ewoks' god is among them and that they should join the Rebellion. Putting aside the very questionable morality of exploiting their religion like that, was that a lawful PYSOPS operation or a war crime?

The Ewoks themselves engage in a number of legally questionable actions, including their use of booby traps and IEDs, their decision to set up an ambush around C3PO's false surrender, and their decision at the end of the movie to barbeque some of their stormtrooper detainees.

Lastly, we cover the surrender, detention, and interrogation of Luke Skywalker, now a prisoner of war of Imperial forces, as well as Darth Vader's decision to intervene in the commission of a war crime by stopping the Emperor's attempt to extrajudicially execute Luke.

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