Surgical Strikes

Jan 24, 2018
  • Capacity: 74
  • 6:00pm - 9:00pm
  • Location:
    Sage East
    6331 Crescent Road
    Vancouver, BC V6T1Z2

In war combatants are knowingly and deliberately exposed to death through the suspension of laws that would otherwise protect them – in that sense the ‘battlefield’ is a space of exception’ – but they are then afforded a measure of protection through international humanitarian law (‘the laws of war’). Among other measures, these forbid direct and deliberate attacks on hospitals, medical workers and their patients: an exception to the exception. Yet in our century attacks on hospitals, medical workers and their patients in conflict zones have become increasingly common. Through a detailed analysis of the US air strike on the MSF Trauma Center in Kunduz (Afghanistan) and Russian and Syrian Arab Air Force strikes on hospitals and clinics in rebel-held territories in Syria this presentation probes the scale of these attacks, explores the strategies that lie behind them, and raises troubling questions about the implications for international humanitarian law and the conduct of later modern war.

Derek Gregory is a Peter Wall Distinguished Professor and Professor of Geography. His current research is on medical care and casualty evacuation in war zones.  A full bio is available at

Pre-dinner refreshments will be available at 6:00 pm. The talk will begin at 6:30 pm.  A complimentary dinner will be served at 7:30 pm.