Visual lawfare: evidential imagery at the service of military objectives

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While chemical attacks are rare and deemed an illegitimate form of warfare, the attempt to exploit international law in order to license military action is an eerily common custom. The practice of deploying a legal system to promote military objectives is now widely known as lawfare. In this article, the author focuses on what she calls visual lawfare, namely the weaponization of visual documentation used to provide evidence in order to either prove compliance, or to demonstrate violations, of international laws of warfare through appeal to a legal forum, in order to facilitate a military objective. Drawing on endeavours to affect the United Nations Security Council resolutions in the context of the Syrian Civil War, in addition to revisiting selected lawfare scholarship while providing the new concept of ‘visual lawfare’ itself, she expands on how visual evidence is employed or produced to sanction the lawful use of violence while citing international codes of conduct.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-348
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Visual Culture
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2022


  • Syrian Civil War
  • United Nations Security Council
  • humanitarian photography
  • law of war
  • visual evidence
  • visual lawfare

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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