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Collateral Damages – Military Necessity And The Right To Life

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Chapter Summary

Accordingly, politicians tend to avoid terms such as 'collateral damage' and take refuge in verbal euphemisms that try to hide the problem. But does the underlying legal problem really perish? Human rights doctrine has serious problems in taking up such moral dilemma, of really coping with the tragic features of certain decision-making situations. That is why this chapter concentrates upon humanitarian law doctrine. Civilian persons and purely civilian objects can never constitute legitimate 'military objectives'. The whole approach underlying humanitarian law rules on the methods and means of warfare thus depends upon the operation of the principle of distinction. The principle of distinction, however, has always been the cornerstone of any attempt to discipline military practice in its choice of methods and means of warfare. The necessary corollary of such a principle is the prohibition against indiscriminate warfare.

Keywords: civilian persons; collateral damage; humanitarian law; indiscriminate warfare; principle of distinction



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