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The principle of proportionality in International Humanitarian Law - In Light of the Just War Tradition and Proportionality in Constitutional Law

Nordin, Klara LU (2013) JURM02 20122
Department of Law
Abstract
The principle of proportionality in International Humanitarian Law prohibits attacks where civilian casualties and damage to civilian property are expected to be excessive in relation to the military advantage anticipated. This rule is exposed to critique and whether it is even applied to practical situations can be questioned. The premise of the thesis is that the principle of proportionality in humanitarian law is a difficult provision to apply, and the purpose of the thesis is to investigate and highlight what this difficulty may consist in. Two different, but interrelated, questions can be posed with regard to the application of the principle of proportionality in humanitarian law; what are the values that should be assigned to each... (More)
The principle of proportionality in International Humanitarian Law prohibits attacks where civilian casualties and damage to civilian property are expected to be excessive in relation to the military advantage anticipated. This rule is exposed to critique and whether it is even applied to practical situations can be questioned. The premise of the thesis is that the principle of proportionality in humanitarian law is a difficult provision to apply, and the purpose of the thesis is to investigate and highlight what this difficulty may consist in. Two different, but interrelated, questions can be posed with regard to the application of the principle of proportionality in humanitarian law; what are the values that should be assigned to each side of the scale and how should the proportionality assessment be conducted? In order to shed light on the principle of proportionality it is analyzed in light of two different perspectives: one is the Just War tradition and the other the structure of proportionality in constitutional law.

The Just War tradition, often considered the origin of the principle of proportionality in humanitarian law, provides a moral understanding of the principle in general and the concept of military advantage in particular. The other perspective, proportionality tests in constitutional law, provides a structure for how a proportionality assessment could be conducted. Applying the structured analysis of proportionality in constitutional law onto proportionality in humanitarian law reveals a need to detect and evaluate the underlying interests protected by the rule; namely the interest of the civilian population not to be exposed to the dangers of attack and the interest of belligerent parties’ gaining military superiority. This goes to the very core of International Humanitarian Law; the balance between military necessities and humanitarian considerations. It indicates that the principle of proportionality in Additional Protocol I is difficult to apply since one fundamental question in humanitarian law still needs to be resolved; how much suffering should the civilian population have to endure in the course of war? (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Proportionalitetsprincipen inom den humanitära rätten förbjuder genomförandet av en attack om den förväntas leda till dödsfall eller skador på civila och på civil egendom, vilka är överdrivna i relation till den förväntade militära vinningen. Mitt intryck, vilket också är en utgångspunkt för uppsatsen, är att proportionalitetsprincipen inom den humanitära rätten tillämpas i mycket liten utsträckning. En anledning till detta kan vara att det är en svår regel att tillämpa. Uppsatsens syfte är att undersöka och belysa vad denna svårighet kan bestå i. Två olika frågor kan ställas i relation till tillämpningen av proportionalitetsprincipen: vilka värden ska läggas i de olika vågskålarna och hur ska vägningen gå till? För att kunna förtydliga... (More)
Proportionalitetsprincipen inom den humanitära rätten förbjuder genomförandet av en attack om den förväntas leda till dödsfall eller skador på civila och på civil egendom, vilka är överdrivna i relation till den förväntade militära vinningen. Mitt intryck, vilket också är en utgångspunkt för uppsatsen, är att proportionalitetsprincipen inom den humanitära rätten tillämpas i mycket liten utsträckning. En anledning till detta kan vara att det är en svår regel att tillämpa. Uppsatsens syfte är att undersöka och belysa vad denna svårighet kan bestå i. Två olika frågor kan ställas i relation till tillämpningen av proportionalitetsprincipen: vilka värden ska läggas i de olika vågskålarna och hur ska vägningen gå till? För att kunna förtydliga tillämpningen av proportionalitetsprincipen inom den humanitära rätten har jag använt mig av två olika perspektiv. Det ena är ”Just War-traditionen”; som innehåller teorier om det rättfärdiga kriget. Det andra är proportionalitet inom den konstitutionella rätten.

Just War-traditionen sägs ofta vara den humanitärrättsliga proportionalitetsprincipens ursprung. Just War-traditionen bidrar med en moralisk förståelse av proportionalitetsprincipen generellt, och begreppet militär vinning (military advantage) i synnerhet. Det strukturerade förhållningssättet till proportionalitetsbedömningar inom den konstitutionella rätten ger nya insikter om hur proportionalitetsbedömningen inom den humanitära rätten ska utföras. Strukturen visar på att det vad som egentligen ska mätas genom proportionalitetsbedömningen. Militär vinning och civila skador är inte två motstående intressen utan vinning för respektive skada på två motstående intressen, nämligen civilas intresse av att inte bli skadade av militära angrepp och stridande parters intresse av att nå militär överlägsenhet. Detta leder till insikten om att proportionalitetsprincipen inom den humanitära rätten är svår att tillämpa eftersom en grundläggande fråga ännu inte har fått en lösning; hur stort lidande ska civilbefolkningen utså under en väpnad konflikt? (Less)
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author
Nordin, Klara LU
supervisor
organization
course
JURM02 20122
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Public International Law, International Humanitarian Law, Principle of proportionality, Just War Theory
language
English
id
3563646
date added to LUP
2013-03-21 15:54:14
date last changed
2017-01-27 15:55:24
@misc{3563646,
  abstract     = {The principle of proportionality in International Humanitarian Law prohibits attacks where civilian casualties and damage to civilian property are expected to be excessive in relation to the military advantage anticipated. This rule is exposed to critique and whether it is even applied to practical situations can be questioned. The premise of the thesis is that the principle of proportionality in humanitarian law is a difficult provision to apply, and the purpose of the thesis is to investigate and highlight what this difficulty may consist in. Two different, but interrelated, questions can be posed with regard to the application of the principle of proportionality in humanitarian law; what are the values that should be assigned to each side of the scale and how should the proportionality assessment be conducted? In order to shed light on the principle of proportionality it is analyzed in light of two different perspectives: one is the Just War tradition and the other the structure of proportionality in constitutional law. 

The Just War tradition, often considered the origin of the principle of proportionality in humanitarian law, provides a moral understanding of the principle in general and the concept of military advantage in particular. The other perspective, proportionality tests in constitutional law, provides a structure for how a proportionality assessment could be conducted. Applying the structured analysis of proportionality in constitutional law onto proportionality in humanitarian law reveals a need to detect and evaluate the underlying interests protected by the rule; namely the interest of the civilian population not to be exposed to the dangers of attack and the interest of belligerent parties’ gaining military superiority. This goes to the very core of International Humanitarian Law; the balance between military necessities and humanitarian considerations. It indicates that the principle of proportionality in Additional Protocol I is difficult to apply since one fundamental question in humanitarian law still needs to be resolved; how much suffering should the civilian population have to endure in the course of war?},
  author       = {Nordin, Klara},
  keyword      = {Public International Law,International Humanitarian Law,Principle of proportionality,Just War Theory},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The principle of proportionality in International Humanitarian Law - In Light of the Just War Tradition and Proportionality in Constitutional Law},
  year         = {2013},
}