Senators Kaine and Flake Release Tailored Authorization for Use of Military Force

Human Rights First welcomed the proposal from Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) for an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that is tailored to current conflicts, repeals the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs, and includes meaningful reporting requirements and a five-year sunset.

“Senators Kaine and Flake’s proposal reflects lessons learned by Congress in authorizing military force over the past decade,” said Human Rights First’s Rita Siemion. “This authorization is clear and specific about who force is being used against and where. Its robust congressional oversight provisions and five-year sunset would help ensure that the United States is empowered to counter the present terrorist threat while also upholding the rule of law, maintaining global legitimacy, and promoting respect for human rights.”

Human Rights First notes that over-broad language in the 2001 AUMF, which authorized the use of force against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks, has been stretched to cover the use of force nearly 16 years later against groups that did not even exist in 2001. Such usage undermines human rights protections and the rule of law by enabling an amorphous and indefinite war.

Senators Kaine and Flake’s proposed AUMF would:

  • Authorize the use of military force against al Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIS, and “associated persons or forces,” which are narrowly defined and cannot include other states.
  • Repeal the 2001 AUMF and 2002 Iraq AUMF.
  • Sunset the new AUMF in five years, with an expedited process to reauthorize the AUMF if necessary.
  • Require the president to report to Congress before using force against any new groups or in any new locations and provides a mechanism for Congress to disapprove of the use of force against any new group or in any new location not listed in the current authorization.
  • Require the president to provide a comprehensive strategy report to Congress, including military, economic, humanitarian, and diplomatic capabilities, and regular progress reports including a list of the groups against which force is used and a list of countries where force is being used.

These elements are in line with Human Rights First’s recommendations regarding congressional authorization in the fight against ISIS. For our full set of recommendations, see Human Rights First’s backgrounder, Drafting an Effective Authorization for Use of Military Force.

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