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The Principle of Distinction in Modern Warfare

Ribbenvik, Alice LU (2018) LAGF03 20182
Department of Law
Faculty of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Distinktionsprincipen är en av de mest fundamentala principerna i internationell humanitär rätt. Distinktionsprincipen grundades i St. Petersburgdeklarationen från 1868 och syftade till att minska det dödliga våldet mot civila i väpnade konflikter. Principen är nu kodifierad i artikel 48, 51(2) och 52(2) i det första tilläggsprotokollet till Genevekonventionen. Det är lättast att utläsa principen i artikel 48, som lyder “I syfte att tillse att civilbefolkningen och civil egendom respekteras och skyddas skall de stridande parterna alltid göra åtskillnad mellan civilbefolkning och kombattanter samt mellan civil egendom och militära mål samt följaktligen rikta sina operationer enbart mot militära mål.”

Uppsatsen presenterar principens... (More)
Distinktionsprincipen är en av de mest fundamentala principerna i internationell humanitär rätt. Distinktionsprincipen grundades i St. Petersburgdeklarationen från 1868 och syftade till att minska det dödliga våldet mot civila i väpnade konflikter. Principen är nu kodifierad i artikel 48, 51(2) och 52(2) i det första tilläggsprotokollet till Genevekonventionen. Det är lättast att utläsa principen i artikel 48, som lyder “I syfte att tillse att civilbefolkningen och civil egendom respekteras och skyddas skall de stridande parterna alltid göra åtskillnad mellan civilbefolkning och kombattanter samt mellan civil egendom och militära mål samt följaktligen rikta sina operationer enbart mot militära mål.”

Uppsatsen presenterar principens rättsutveckling i syfte att ge läsaren tillräcklig information för att förstå definitionen och syftet bakom principen, innan principens kontemporära problem introduceras. Läsaren blir introducerad till “intra-state”-konflikter, ny militärteknik, “civilianization” av militären och korrekt kategorisering av befolkningen. Avsnittet som innehåller problematisering av principens moderna tillämpning ger grund till svaren på uppsatsens huvudsakliga frågeställningar. Frågorna som ställs och besvaras är “Är reglerna kring distinktionsprincipen effektiva i modern krigföring?” och “Är lagstiftarnas syfte med reglerna rörande principen uppfyllt i modern krigföring?”

Sammanfattningsvis framhåller uppsatsen att reglerna inte är effektiva i modern krigföring. Ökningen av “intra-state”-konflikter, rebellgrupper och civila som direkt deltar i stridigheter (direct participation in hostilities) har försvårat distinktionen mellan civila och kombattanter. Uppsatsen menar vidare att syftet bakom principen inte är uppfyllt. Trots detta gynnas modern krigföring fortfarande av principens existens. Principen kan upprätthållas i modern tid, så länge som stater och större organisationer fortsätter se över reglerna, samt skriva rekommendationer över hur reglerna bör appliceras i moderna väpnade konflikter. (Less)
Abstract
The principle of distinction is one of the cardinal principles of international humanitarian law. The principle of distinction originated in the St. Petersburg Declaration in 1868, aiming to limit the civilian casualties in warfare. The principle is now codified in article 48, 51(2), 52(2) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Convention. The principle is most prominent in article 48. The article states that parties to the conflict “shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objectives”, in order to “ensure respect for and protection of the civilian population and civilian... (More)
The principle of distinction is one of the cardinal principles of international humanitarian law. The principle of distinction originated in the St. Petersburg Declaration in 1868, aiming to limit the civilian casualties in warfare. The principle is now codified in article 48, 51(2), 52(2) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Convention. The principle is most prominent in article 48. The article states that parties to the conflict “shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objectives”, in order to “ensure respect for and protection of the civilian population and civilian objects”.

The essay presents the legislative development of the principle in order to provide the reader enough material to understand the phrasing and purpose behind the principle, before introducing the contemporary challenges the principle is faced with in modern times. The essay introduces the reader to intra-state conflicts, new warfare technology, civilianization of the military and the trouble of categorizing the population into the correct role on the battlefield. The problematization chapter of the essay is providing the material to answer the essays main research questions, “Are the rules that regulate the principle of distinction efficient in modern warfare?” and “Is the early lawmakers purpose of the regulations still fulfilled in modern warfare?”.

In conclusion, the essay holds the opinion that the regulations regarding the principle of distinction is dated and is not efficient in modern warfare. The increase of intra-state conflicts, insurgent groups and civilians taking part in hostilities creates a situation where it is no longer easy to distinguish who is a civilian and who is a combatant. Further, the essay claims that the purpose of the principle still not fulfilled. The battlefield situation is still better off with the regulations that exist, even though they are challenged in many ways. The principle can be upheld if more established organizations and states keep revising the regulations and write further general directions and recommendations on how to use the regulations in contemporary armed conflicts. (Less)
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author
Ribbenvik, Alice LU
supervisor
organization
course
LAGF03 20182
year
type
M2 - Bachelor Degree
subject
keywords
Public international law, international humanitarian law, the principle of distinction
language
English
id
8965916
date added to LUP
2019-03-17 14:15:24
date last changed
2019-03-17 14:15:24
@misc{8965916,
  abstract     = {The principle of distinction is one of the cardinal principles of international humanitarian law. The principle of distinction originated in the St. Petersburg Declaration in 1868, aiming to limit the civilian casualties in warfare. The principle is now codified in article 48, 51(2), 52(2) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Convention. The principle is most prominent in article 48. The article states that parties to the conflict “shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objectives”, in order to “ensure respect for and protection of the civilian population and civilian objects”. 

The essay presents the legislative development of the principle in order to provide the reader enough material to understand the phrasing and purpose behind the principle, before introducing the contemporary challenges the principle is faced with in modern times. The essay introduces the reader to intra-state conflicts, new warfare technology, civilianization of the military and the trouble of categorizing the population into the correct role on the battlefield. The problematization chapter of the essay is providing the material to answer the essays main research questions, “Are the rules that regulate the principle of distinction efficient in modern warfare?” and “Is the early lawmakers purpose of the regulations still fulfilled in modern warfare?”. 

In conclusion, the essay holds the opinion that the regulations regarding the principle of distinction is dated and is not efficient in modern warfare. The increase of intra-state conflicts, insurgent groups and civilians taking part in hostilities creates a situation where it is no longer easy to distinguish who is a civilian and who is a combatant. Further, the essay claims that the purpose of the principle still not fulfilled. The battlefield situation is still better off with the regulations that exist, even though they are challenged in many ways. The principle can be upheld if more established organizations and states keep revising the regulations and write further general directions and recommendations on how to use the regulations in contemporary armed conflicts.},
  author       = {Ribbenvik, Alice},
  keyword      = {Public international law,international humanitarian law,the principle of distinction},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The Principle of Distinction in Modern Warfare},
  year         = {2018},
}