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Tag Archive: Human Shields

New Symposium Scholarship on Human Shields

We have covered on these pages the legal and moral issues surrounding the use of human shields in contemporary armed conflict situations. The American Society of International Law, in a new partnership with Cambridge Press, released yesterday its first symposium edition of the American Journal of International Law Unbound, which provides stereoscopic perspectives on this phenomenon, which has become “endemic” in modern warfare.…   continue »

Thoughts on Distinction and Proportionality in the December 2016 Revision to the Law of War Manual

The new revisions to the DoD Law of War Manual that the Department of Defense released last week are welcome in several respects.  Four improvements are especially noteworthy:

First, a greatly expanded Section 5.11—like General Counsel Jennifer O’Connor’s recent speech at NYU—offers a much richer discussion of the sorts of precautions that the law of war requires, and of further precautions that the U.S.…   continue »

A Squarable Circle?: The Revised DoD Law of War Manual and the Challenge of Human Shields

In a new update to its Law of War (LoW) Manual, the U.S. Department of Defense kept its promise to be, as the DoD General Counsel (GC) Hon. Jennifer O’Connor reiterated at NYU in late November, “a living document.”  Commendably, from its very issuance DoD has affirmatively sought comment and input, and its first revision last May reflects its willingness to act on those inputs.…   continue »

Defense Department Releases Second Round of Revisions for Law of War Manual

The Defense Department published new revisions to its Law of War Manual this evening. This is the second time the document has been changed since it was first released in the summer of 2015. The first round of revisions focused on the section on journalism and changed some of the language to provide greater legal protection to reporters working in war zones.  continue »

Human Shields: The Weapon of the Strong

In a series of interventions, Adil Ahmad Haque and Charlie Dunlap have debated the Defense Department Law of War Manual’s position on human shields (here, here, and here). Claiming that the manual does not draw a distinction between voluntary and involuntary human shields, Haque maintains that it ignores the principle of proportionality, thus permitting the killing of defenseless civilians who are used as involuntary shields.…   continue »

DOD is Still Wrong About Target Selection and Civilians

Editor’s Note: Just Security is holding a “mini forum” on the new Defense Department Law of War Manual. This series includes posts from Sean Watts, Eric Jensen, Geoffrey Corn, Charles Dunlap, and others.

The recently released US Defense Department Law of War Manual says the following (emphasis added):

AP I provides that “[w]hen a choice is possible between several military objectives for obtaining a similar military advantage, the objective to be selected shall be that the attack on which may be expected to cause the least danger to civilian lives and to civilian objects.” The United States has expressed the view that this rule is not a requirement of customary international law.

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