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New Battlefields/Old LawsCritical Debates on Asymmetric Warfare$
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William Banks

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231152358

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231152358.001.0001

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Toward an Adaptive International Humanitarian Law

Toward an Adaptive International Humanitarian Law

New Norms for New Battlefields

(p.1) Introduction Toward an Adaptive International Humanitarian Law
New Battlefields/Old Laws

William C. Banks

Columbia University Press

This book presents key debates on the legal underpinnings and policy implications of asymmetric warfare for international humanitarian law (IHL) as it confronts new challenges, conflicts, actors, battlefields, and norms in the contemporary security environment. It examines the challenges posed by asymmetric warfare to IHL and the role of nonstate groups in many of the world's conflicts, as well as the involvement of irregular actors—paramilitaries, child soldiers, civilians, and private military firms. The book considers how legal instruments historically designed to humanize the anarchy of the battlefield have become politicized weapons in contemporary conflicts. The discussion is organized around four overarching debates: threshold issues in defining armed conflicts in the twenty-first century; status and liabilities of nonstate actors engaged in hostilities; changing twenty-first-century battlefields and armed forces; and military necessity and humanitarian priorities in IHL.

Keywords:   asymmetric warfare, international humanitarian law, armed conflicts, nonstate actors, battlefields, armed forces, paramilitaries, child soldiers, civilians, private military firms

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