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Complexity in the Law of War

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Chapter Summary

In this chapter, following a brief overview of the development of the law of armed conflict, author explores the complexity problem of humanitarian law. The law of armed conflict contains two sets of norms, the first pertaining to the limits on the military's use of force (so-called means and methods) and the second to the treatment of individuals in a warring power's custody. Complexity may be a necessary feature of the law of armed conflict, as the conduct of war, like other fields subject to international law, has itself become increasingly complex. The definition's complexity rests on its technical, dense qualities rather than a sense of indeterminacy. Modern militaries deal with the complexity in a variety of ways. Soldiers - in the American military and others - receive distillations of the rules governing their conduct in battle and over those they detain.

Keywords: armed conflict; humanitarian law; law's complexity; modern militaries



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