It's war, Jim, but not as we know it: a "reality-check" for international laws of war?

Chadwick, E. ORCID: 0000-0002-1114-1250, 2003. It's war, Jim, but not as we know it: a "reality-check" for international laws of war? Crime, Law and Social Change, 39 (3), pp. 233-262. ISSN 0925-4994

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International Humanitarian Laws of Armed Conflict effectively prohibit the use of terror-violence as a means or method of warfare in all circumstances of armed conflict. However, as new "terrorist" enemies do not appear to share this humanitarian consensus, it becomes crucial to contextualise accurately any characterisation of the recent "war" on "global terror" as a "war"' to which International Humanitarian Law can attach. What needs to be remembered, first, is that technological innovation can destabilise accepted frameworks for waging war. Thus, any laws intended to curtail the use of particular means and methods of warfare will reflect the contemporaneous environment within which such laws were formulated. Secondly, modern laws of war evolved from nineteenth century reciprocal pacts designed to ensure minimal levels of restraint between "civilised" peoples. While any strict contractual approach to mutuality-in-restraint has been superceded in the post-1945 era by more universalised obligations, the interests reflected in this original mutuality of interest warrant examination when distinguishing today between "justifiable"' and "unjustifiable", or "licit"' and "illicit", uses of violence.

Item Type: Journal article
Description: The original publication is available at
Publication Title: Crime, Law and Social Change
Creators: Chadwick, E.
Publisher: Springer Verlag
Date: 2003
Volume: 39
Number: 3
ISSN: 0925-4994
Rights: © 2003 Kluwer Academic Publishers
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Law School
Record created by: EPrints Services
Date Added: 09 Oct 2015 10:04
Last Modified: 22 May 2018 13:02

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