Assymmetric conflict structures

Geiss, R. (2006) Assymmetric conflict structures. International Review of the Red Cross, 88(864), pp. 757-777.

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Inequality in arms, indeed, significant disparity between belligerents, has become a prominent feature of various contemporary armed conflicts. Such asymmetries, albeit not at all a new phenomenon in the field of warfare, no longer constitute a random occurrence of singular battles. As a structural characteristic of modern-day warfare asymmetric conflict structures have repercussions on the application of fundamental principles of international humanitarian law. How, for example, can the concept of military necessity, commonly understood to justify the degree of force necessary to secure military defeat of the enemy, be reconciled with a constellation in which one side in the conflict is from the outset bereft of any chance of winning the conflict militarily? Moreover, military imbalances of this scope evidently carry incentives for the inferior party to level out its inferiority by circumventing accepted rules of warfare. This article attempts tentatively to assess the repercussions this could have on the principle of reciprocity, especially the risk of the instigation of a destabilizing dynamic of negativ e reciprocity which ultimately could lead to a gradual intensification of a mutual disregard of international humanitarian law.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Geiss, Professor Robin
Authors: Geiss, R.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Law
Journal Name:International Review of the Red Cross
ISSN (Online):1607-5889

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