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Collective Punishment

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Chapter Summary

This chapter describes the evolution of the prohibition of collective punishment under international humanitarian law. From its hesitant beginnings as the ambiguous Article 50 in the 1899 Hague Regulations, the prohibition of collective punishment has developed into an important humanitarian law rule, present in each of the regime's major instruments and now crystallized into a rule of customary international law. Violation of this norm can amount to a punishable war crime. From the point of view of this study, this development represents a firm rejection by the international humanitarian law regime of this concept of collective responsibility, which would allow a group or its members to bear responsibility for the wrongful acts of individuals. Frequently, justifications of deterrence for schemes of collective punishment serve as a mere cloak for brutality and oppression; the Second World War provides countless examples.

Keywords: article 50; Collective punishment; Hague Regulation; international humanitarian law; international law



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