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May 03, 2016

How to Improve President Obama's ISIS AUMF

There have been renewed calls for Congress to pass an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) following President Obama’s recent announcement that he will expand the deployment of special operations forces in Syria. Should Congress move forward with an ISIS AUMF, Human Rights First urges Congress to ensure that the new law avoid the shortcomings of the 2001 AUMF and the 2002 Iraq AUMF. These authorizations failed to precisely identify the target and define the mission and lack sufficient transparency and reporting requirements. These shortcomings have enabled policies that have eroded human rights protections and the rule of law for nearly a decade and a half.

This document sets out how the Obama administration’s ISIS AUMF proposal can be improved to empower the United States to counter the terrorist threat while also upholding the rule of law, maintaining global legitimacy, and protecting human rights. Our AUMF recommendations satisfy the “Principles to Guide Congressional Authorization of the Continued Use of Force Against ISIL,” which have garnered bipartisan support and articulate a prudent approach to drafting an effective ISIS AUMF.