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Belligerent Reprisals

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Chapter Summary

Belligerent reprisals are deliberate violations of the laws of war, made by a party to a conflict in response to the prior violation of those same laws by the opposing party, and for the purpose of coercing the latter to cease its unlawful action. This chapter describes the evolution of the law of belligerent reprisals, following which consideration is given to the customary status and scope of the more recent conventional laws on reprisals. It focuses on the intentional disregarding of the laws of war in response to prior unlawful actions and for the purpose of enforcing compliance. The chapter also discusses the issues and controversies surrounding the interstate nature of the doctrine of belligerent reprisals and its potential application in the context of non-international armed conflicts.

Keywords: belligerent reprisals; laws of war; unlawful action



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