Emory International Law Review


Matthew Neely


The rise of drug cartels in Mexico has attracted international attention. In particular, United States President Donald J. Trump has publicly discussed that he may send the U.S. military into Mexico to fight these cartels. If the U.S. military does enter Mexico, it is important to consider the constraints placed on these actors by the law of armed conflict and human rights law. This Article concludes that the violence in Mexico attributable to drug cartels cannot legally be considered an armed conflict. Instead, if the U.S. sends in military forces, these forces would be bound by human rights law. Based on both treaty and customary international law, human rights law must be considered by any foreign force entering Mexico to fight drug cartels.