More interesting, however, is Bellingerâ€™s contention that â€œ[t]he United States is firmly committed to the law that applies. We’re also committed to working with other countries around the world to develop new legal norms in cases where existing law does not give one the answers. But what we do think is problematic is to simply suggest that the Geneva Conventions provide all of the answers in fighting international terrorism, and that countries simply need to follow the Geneva Conventions and that is the end of the matterâ€. This appears to suggest that there is no law to govern detention of suspected terrorists, when in fact there clearly is: international human rights law.
Nobody suggests that the application of the Geneva Conventions is the end of the matter. The ICJ (in the Advisory Opinion on Nuclear Weapons) and many commentators have noted that international human rights law continues to apply in parallel with and through the prism of international humanitarian law. The United States, however, predominantly takes the position that IHRL does not apply in times of IHL-application. The root of the problem arguably lies not in deficiencies within the international legal code, but rather in the restricted view of applicable law on the part of the US authorities.