International Relations Laws of War
by
Calin Trenkov-Wermuth
  • LAST REVIEWED: 18 November 2020
  • LAST MODIFIED: 02 March 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199743292-0028

Introduction

The laws of war are a set of rules that aim to regulate the acceptable reasons for going to war (jus ad bellum), the conduct of hostilities during a war (jus in bello), and the aftermath of a war and the transition from war to peace (jus post bellum). They are a part of public international law, and they derive from states’ desire to regulate the use of force, to prevent unnecessary suffering and destruction during a conflict, and to create a just and sustainable peace after a conflict. The laws that regulate the conduct of hostilities, also referred to as international humanitarian law, stem from two branches of law: the law of The Hague, which addresses the various types of weapons and their permissible uses, as well as the behavior of combatants during hostilities; and the law of Geneva, which deals with the humanitarian treatment of the victims of war, including the wounded, civilians, prisoners of war, and medical and religious personnel. Some of the underlying principles of the laws of war, also referred to as the laws of armed conflict in a broader sense, are that the wanton destruction of human life and property is prohibited, that protracted conflicts are not desirable, and that hostilities must swiftly come to an end once the political objectives that began a conflict are achieved. Combatants and civilians must be protected from unnecessary hardship or suffering, and if they fall into the hands of the enemy, key human rights provisions will apply to them. And the perpetrators of serious human rights violations must be held accountable. The laws of war are distinct from but may cover similar issue areas as a belligerent state’s national laws, which may also place legal limits on the potential justification for going to war or the conduct of that state during a war.

General Overviews

The laws of war can be a complex topic to study, especially for those without a legal background. A number of texts though provide a good introduction to this subject and manage to present it in an accessible way. They provide expert guidance through the legal jargon and key concepts and are useful for students of various fields, while maintaining their relevance for international lawyers and experts. The most important classic text on the laws of war is Grotius 2004, written by one of the founding fathers of international law. The three books contained in this seminal study have informed countless generations of scholars, lawyers, and military strategists and tacticians. Oppenheim 1952, edited by Hersch Lauterpacht, is as close as we can get to a modern-day classic of the 20th century. Howard, et al. 1994 provides a very useful general overview of the history and development of the laws of war over the centuries. Students and scholars should refer to Best 1996 for a more detailed and comprehensive analysis of the key developments since the end of World War II. Detter 2000 and Kennedy 2006 provide new and provocative interpretations of the uses and applicability of the laws of war. Kalshoven and Zegveld 2001 is a helpful introduction to humanitarian law for students and scholars, and Rogers 2004 should become a standard tool for all practitioners dealing with land warfare.

  • Best, Geoffrey. War and Law since 1945. Oxford: Clarendon, 1996.

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    Authoritative treatise by an eminent thinker in the field. Surveys recent developments in international law as it relates to war, and explores various types of armed conflict since the World War II, offering a new perspective on ethics and the laws of war.

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  • Detter, Ingrid. The Law of War. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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    This well-structured and comprehensive account of the laws of war provides readers with a clear analysis of the key issues and challenges related to the application of such rules, and concludes that they are “binding” also outside treaties and on individuals, thus arguing for the subjectivity of individuals in international law.

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  • Grotius, Hugo. On the Law of War and Peace. Whitefish, MT: Kessinger, 2004.

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    Divided into three books, this true classic by a key luminary has shaped thinking on the laws of war since it was first published in 1625 and remains relevant and a must-read for any serious student of the laws of armed conflict.

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  • Howard, Michael, George J. Andreopoulos, and Mark R. Shulman, eds. The Laws of War: Constraints on Warfare in the Western World. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1994.

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    An excellent history of the constraints on war, this edited volume expertly traces developments in the formal and informal regulation of violence from classical antiquity to the present, covering issues that range from weapons and combatants, to prisoners of war, war crimes, and civilians.

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  • Kalshoven, Frits, and Liesbeth Zegveld. Constraints on the Waging of War: An Introduction to International Humanitarian Law. 3d ed. Geneva, Switzerland: International Committee of the Red Cross, 2001.

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    Exposition of the main rules of humanitarian law, especially as related to weapons and international criminal law, this work is designed to be a useful tool for students and specialists alike.

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  • Kennedy, David. Of War and Law. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006.

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    Offers a provocative new perspective on the uses of the laws of war, arguing that law has become a tool of war itself, used to legitimize military action, and that it is no longer applied just for humanitarian ends.

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  • Oppenheim, L. International Law: A Treatise. Vol. 2, Disputes, War and Neutrality. 7th ed. Edited by Hersch Lauterpacht. London: Longsmans, Green, 1952.

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    Widely used and referenced by scholars and practitioners alike, this classic treatise by Oppenheim (the fifth edition edited by Hersch Lauterpacht, one of the most reputable scholars of his time) set the tone and industry standard for this subject for many decades.

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  • Rogers, A. P. V. Law on the Battlefield. 2d ed. Huntington, NY: Juris, 2004.

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    Well-written, logically constructed, and highly relevant book, which is the work of a former major general of the British Army. Examines key provisions of the laws of war as related to combat on land, tracing their origins and discussing contentious issues, and offering recommendations as to their practical application. This work will prove particularly useful to military planners and lawyers dealing with combat on land.

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Collections, Commentaries, and Dictionaries

There are different types of reference works when it comes to the laws of war, including official records of conferences, reports of cases, reports of official commissions of inquiry, etc. The material presented here focuses on the reference works most useful to the widest audience, namely collections of the laws of war, commentaries on specific documents, and dictionaries. Compilations of the laws of war have been published and updated since The Hague and Geneva conventions, but the material presented here does not include any historic compilations, as they are no longer up-to-date. Numerous recent works contain all major documents that make up the laws of war. Texts such as Friedman 1972 simply contain a number of important texts but no extra information on ratifications, when a document entered into force, etc. Schindler and Toman 2004 is an excellent compilation of key documents, as is Reisman and Antoniou 1994, which, however, contains only extracts of key documents. The comprehensive collection of full-text documents in Roberts and Guelff 2000 is a highly useful resource and an indispensable educational tool. Pictet 1952–1960 offers the most comprehensive analysis of the Geneva Conventions to date. Levie 1986 also provides useful commentaries on important texts and documents. Veri 1992 serves as an excellent lexicon on the laws of war terminology, and those interested in all documents relevant to the work of the ICRC, IFRC, and Red Crescent Societies should consult the most recent edition of the movement’s handbook (International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies 2008).

  • Friedman, Leon, ed. The Laws of War: A Documentary History. 2 vols. New York: Random House, 1972.

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    Contains key documents, but the compilation does not include information on when the legal instruments were ratified, when they entered into force, accessions by states, etc.

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  • International Committee of the Red Cross, and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Handbook of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. 14th ed. Geneva, Switzerland: ICRC, IFRC, and Henry Dunant Institute. 2008.

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    Makes available major documents that constitute international humanitarian law, and all documents fundamental for the work of the ICRC, the international federation, and the various national societies.

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  • Levie, Howard S. The Code of International Armed Conflict. 2 vols. Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana, 1986.

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    Lists topics by subject, and provides helpful commentaries on the texts of the documents.

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  • Pictet, Jean S., ed. The Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949: Commentary. 4 vols. Geneva, Switzerland: International Committee of the Red Cross, 1952–1960.

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    The most comprehensive commentaries on the Geneva Conventions will be of use to experts, scholars and students interested in a detailed analysis of them.

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  • Reisman, Michael, and Chris Antoniou, eds. The Laws of War: A Comprehensive Collection of Primary Documents on International Laws Governing Armed Conflict. New York: Vintage, 1994.

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    This excellent collection contains extracts of all key documents, but not the full-text versions.

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  • Roberts, Adam, and Richard Guelff, eds. Documents on the Laws of War. 3d ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

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    A key reference work and indispensable tool for anyone interested in international humanitarian law, the book contains thirty-eight full-text legal documents and/or treaties, lists the state parties to the treaties, and provides texts of reservations, declarations of understanding, and introductory notes on the treaties’ history.

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  • Schindler, Dietrich, and Jiri Toman, eds. The Laws of Armed Conflicts: A Collection of Conventions, Resolutions and Other Documents. 4th rev. and complete ed. Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff, 2004.

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    A comprehensive, very useful, and up-to-date collection of the key documents.

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  • Veri, Pietro. Dictionary of the International Law of Armed Conflict. Geneva, Switzerland: International Committee of the Red Cross, 1992.

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    Over 450 entries on terms and concepts relating to the laws of war. Also available in French.

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Data Sources

There are a number of data sources that provide information on and links to various treaties, conventions, agreements, and other documents on the laws of war in English and other languages. The website of the International Committee of the Red Cross and its relevant links to documents on the laws of war, and the CD-ROM prepared by the ICRC, are two of the most comprehensive digital resources on the laws of war. Yale University’s Avalon Project has links to a broad range of documents on law, including the law of armed conflict, and the Multilaterals Project at Tufts University provides access to key arms control treaties and agreements, in addition to key documents and conventions on the laws of war. The University of Minnesota Human Rights Library makes some of the same documents available, on occasion in different languages. The Crimes of War Project is essentially a free online version of the book Crimes of War 2.0 and has useful links to other relevant websites. The Project on International Courts and Tribunals offers a wealth of information on the ad hoc courts and the special and hybrid tribunals, including extensive bibliographies on this subject. The United Nations website also provides helpful links to the ad hoc courts on Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and makes available the UN’s treaty collection.

Textbooks

The book best suited for introductory courses on the laws of war is Green 2008, which will provide a highly useful overview of the subject. Fleck 2008 and Dinstein 2010 will appeal to those focusing their studies on jus in bello, and Henckaerts and Doswald-Beck 2005 to those interested in the customary rules of the conduct of hostilities. Legal historians and students interested in a more detailed analysis of the development of the laws of armed conflict may wish to turn to Best 1983 or Howard 1979. Solis 2010 will find a wide appeal, not least because of its extensive case material.

  • Best, Geoffrey. Humanity in Warfare: The Modern History of the International Law of Armed Conflicts. London: Methuen, 1983.

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    Best suited for those wishing to gain an understanding of the development and history of the laws of war. The author’s distinct moral concern shapes the tone and argument of the work.

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  • Dinstein, Yoram. The Conduct of Hostilities under the Law of International Armed Conflict. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

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    This well-written textbook is a great resource for those studying jus in bello and complements the author’s textbook on jus ad bellum (see Dinstein 2005, cited under Use of Force). It places an emphasis on the challenges arising in interstate wars, with a predominant focus on Iraq and Afghanistan and covers complex issues arising out of recent conflicts such as the use of human shields and collateral damage.

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  • Fleck, Dieter, et al. The Handbook of International Humanitarian Law. 2d ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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    Following a simple and clear structure, this edited volume benefits from the accessible writing style of its contributors. Theoretical discussions and practical advice are well balanced throughout this new edition of what will undoubtedly become a classic manual, which also contains topical chapters on humanitarian law in the context of postconflict peace operations and of noninternational armed conflicts.

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  • Green, Leslie C. The Contemporary Law of Armed Conflict. 3d ed. Huntington, NY: Juris, 2008.

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    The best general introduction on the laws of war, this comprehensive and highly readable textbook will be particularly useful to students new to the subject but also as a reference source for experts.

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  • Henckaerts, Jean-Marie, and Louise Doswald-Beck. Customary International Humanitarian Law. Vol. 1, Rules. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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    Unique study of the customary rules of international humanitarian law binding on all parties to all types of conflict given the absence of ratifications to key treaties.

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  • Howard, Michael, ed. Restraints on War: Studies in the Limitation of Armed Conflict. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979.

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    The essays in this book are divided into two parts: three essays in the first part comment on pre-1945 restraints on air warfare, naval warfare, and land warfare, respectively, and in the second part, the authors address modern thinking on the limitations to conventional warfare, nuclear war, and naval war, also covering the challenging topic of restraints to armed conflict during noninternational wars.

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  • Solis, Gary. The Law of Armed Conflict: International Humanitarian Law in War. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

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    Structured as a textbook, but containing also hundreds of cases and many materials from various jurisdictions. Equally useful to undergraduates, graduates, and battlefield legal advisers, this work tackles complex questions, and clearly benefits from the author’s military experience.

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Bibliographies

Only few comprehensive bibliographies on the subject of the laws of war have been published. For a concise overview of all materials and key works published up to 1985, readers should turn to Henry Dunant Institute 1985, but for a more comprehensive listing, consult International Committee of the Red Cross and Henry Dunant Institute 1987. The Peace Palace Library at The Hague offers an excellent and up-to-date online bibliography on international humanitarian law that includes many of the key items missing from the print bibliographies.

Journals

Various general international law journals publish research on the laws of war. Among them, the American Journal of International Law and British Yearbook of International Law have made significant contributions to the field by publishing groundbreaking research on the laws of armed conflict for over one hundred years and seventy-five years, respectively. The International & Comparative Law Quarterly also has a broad focus but publishes relevant articles regularly. There are also some specialized journals that focus predominantly or entirely on the laws of war: the Journal of Conflict and Security Law focuses on the broad legal issues and debates that arise on the law of armed conflict; the International Review of the Red Cross and Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law publish materials that focus exclusively on topics related to humanitarian law. Those interested in the recent and historic US debates on the legal issues arising from US military engagements should refer to the American Society of International Law Annual Meeting Proceedings, whereas those wishing to follow key developments in the various Hague courts and tribunals will find the Hague Yearbook of International Law indispensable.

Use of Force

The jus ad bellum literature focuses predominantly on the law that regulates the resort to force by states but also includes key works on the legality of the use of force by nonstate actors. Brownlie 1963 offers a comprehensive overview and analysis of the development of jus ad bellum over the centuries. Dinstein 2005 and Gray 2008 are highly suitable as textbooks on this subject as they are well written, clearly structured, and contain materials and commentaries on recent events. Bothe, et al. 2005 contends with recent questions regarding the use of force to emerge from the political developments since the end of the Cold War, and Arend and Beck 1993 assesses how political developments since the end of World War II have altered the very model established under the UN Charter as to when a resort to force is legal. The essays in Holzgrefe and Keohane 2003 address the complex issue of humanitarian intervention and advocate for its need, whereas Chesterman 2003 argues against the view that such interventions can be regarded as legal. Glennon 2001 challenges the conventional wisdom on the use of force, expounding the virtues of military intervention for conflict within states.

  • Arend, Anthony Clark, and Robert J. Beck. International Law and the Use of Force: Beyond the U.N. Charter Paradigm. London: Routledge, 1993.

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    Traces the developments that have challenged the paradigm of regulating the use of force that emerged with the UN Charter; discusses the consequent paradigmatic shift and its implications for the use of force in contemporary politics. Useful text for those studying international relations and international law.

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  • Bothe, Michael, Mary Ellen O’Connell, and Natalino Ronzitti, eds. Redefining Sovereignty: The Use of Force after the Cold War. Ardsley, NY: Transnational, 2005.

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    Chapters by leading experts on challenging legal questions about the use of force arising from NATO’s intervention in Kosovo, the US-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and other military operations, and their impact on the state system and the concept of sovereignty.

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  • Brownlie, Ian. International Law and the Use of Force by States. Oxford: Clarendon, 1963.

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    This classic work offers the most authoritative account of the subject, tracing the historical development of limitations on and prohibitions of the use of force by states from antiquity to the 1960s.

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  • Chesterman, Simon. Just War or Just Peace: Humanitarian Intervention and International Law. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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    Explores the relationship between the notion of a humanitarian intervention and international law, and cautions against the idea that such interventions are legal, irrespective of the cause. Students will find this work an accessible and interesting read.

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  • Dinstein, Yoram. War, Aggression, and Self-Defence. 4th ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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    The fourth edition of this classic and very useful textbook on jus ad bellum focuses on the key issues related to the legality of the use of force. It contains material on Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as sections that discuss issues that have attracted much interest in recent conflicts, such as legitimate responses to armed attacks by nonstate actors.

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  • Glennon, Michael J. Limits of Law, Prerogatives of Power: Interventionism after Kosovo. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001.

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    This groundbreaking and important work challenges the legitimacy of the UN’s anti-interventionist rules after NATO’s intervention in Kosovo and makes a great contribution to the debate on humanitarian intervention by challenging the conventional views on this issue.

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  • Gray, Christine. International Law and the Use of Force. 3d ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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    A thorough and comprehensive analysis of the rules governing the use of force by states and international organizations, this work is also highly useful as a textbook on the subject. It discusses key topics in light of the “war on terror” and various recent events.

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  • Holzgrefe, J. L., and Robert Keohane, eds. Humanitarian Intervention: Ethical, Legal and Political Dilemmas. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

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    This collection of eight essays by leading scholars masterfully exposes the complex political, legal, and moral issues that arise from the notion of humanitarian intervention. The authors argue for the need for humanitarian intervention, despite the inherent potential for abuse.

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Weapons

International humanitarian law regulates the types of weapons that may be employed during hostilities, either prohibiting or restricting the use of certain weapons classes. It also regulates their development, so as to ensure that weapons or munitions conform to certain agreed rules. What may determine the prohibition of a certain weapon is whether it is inherently indiscriminate and whether its employment will cause suffering beyond that which is necessary to incapacitate a combatant. Boothby 2009 provides an excellent and comprehensive overview of the law as it applies to all types of weapons. Those seeking a more in-depth account of the law on naval weapons should turn to Busuttil 1998. Bassiouni 2000 is an indispensable reference tool for scholars, lawyers, and officials working on arms control, and those specifically interested in the ban on antipersonnel mines would find the commentaries in Maslen 2004 very helpful. A more focused discussion of the law as it relates to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is provided in Joyner 2009. There are also numerous works that focus on the legal status of nuclear weapons in particular, including Singh and McWhinney 1989, which provides an excellent account of this divisive issue and the attitudes of the super-powers during the Cold War; Meyrowitz 1990, which takes a stand against the legality of such weapons; and Koppe 2008, which links the question of the legality of such weapons to the laws protecting the environment.

  • Bassiouni, Cherif M. A Manual on International Humanitarian Law and Arms Control Agreements. Dobbs Ferry, NY: Transnational, 2000.

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    A first-rate reference work, containing eighty-four multilateral instruments such as arms control agreements, documents regulating specific weapons, and texts of regional arms control and security agreements. Helpful charts allow for quick access to documents according to specific criteria.

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  • Boothby, William. Weapons and the Law of Armed Conflict. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

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    Detailed account of all rules that apply to all types of weapons, providing historical background to the evolution of these rules, and the principles on which they are based. Also discusses how rules may change in the future.

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  • Busuttil, James J. Naval Weapons Systems and the Contemporary Law of War. Oxford: Clarendon, 1998.

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    Comprehensive analysis of the laws of war as applicable to naval weapons, focusing on submarines, naval mines, and antiship missiles.

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  • Joyner, Daniel H. International Law and the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

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    Clearly written and well structured, this monograph offers a comprehensive analysis of the international (but also domestic) law applicable to one of the most pressing and relevant issues of our time—the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The technical detail makes it useful for lawyers, but its insights and recommendations will find appeal with policy makers.

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  • Koppe, Erik. The Use of Nuclear Weapons and the Protection of the Environment during International Armed Conflict. Oxford: Hart, 2008.

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    One of the very few works about the protection of the environment during armed conflicts, this book focuses specifically on the issue of the use of nuclear weapons and how it relates to laws protecting the environment. The first part analyzes the development and effect of such weapons, and in Part 2 the author focuses on the laws applicable to the protection of the environment.

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  • Maslen, Stuart. Commentaries on Arms Control Treaties. Vol. 1, The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production, and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

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    Extensive article-by-article commentary on all provisions of the treaty. Discusses the military utility of antipersonnel mines, provides a brief introduction to the development and use of such weapons, and comments on the negotiations that led to the adoption of this legal instrument in Oslo in 1997.

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  • Meyrowitz, Elliot L. The Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons: The Relevance of International Law. Dobbs Ferry, NY: Transnational, 1990.

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    Tackles the highly contentious issue of the legality of nuclear weapons and argues decidedly against the stance that the use of such weapons is lawful.

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  • Singh, Nagendra, and Edward McWhinney. Nuclear Weapons and Contemporary International Law. 2d rev. ed. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff, 1989.

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    Excellent scholarly treatment of this subject, with a useful exposé of the changing attitudes of the US and the former USSR toward each other over time, while highlighting key areas of agreement on nuclear weapons. The key idea in both editions is that to be effective, all international treaties, conventions, and other sources of international law must have credibility.

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The Individual and the Laws of War

International humanitarian law aims, in part, to regulate the behavior of combatants during an armed conflict and provides legal protections for individuals in war, both on and off the battlefield. These protections are extended to combatants and noncombatants on the battlefield, prisoners of war, and civilians, and the rules also regulate the rights and obligations of an occupier vis-à-vis combatants and noncombatants in an occupied territory. Benvenisti 1993 and Dinstein 2009 provide excellent overviews of the laws governing the rights and obligations of such occupying powers. Rodley and Pollard 2009 is one of the most comprehensive treatments of the laws protecting prisoners of war, whereas Wills 2009 addresses the obligation of troops, especially peacekeepers, to safeguard the rights and protect the lives of civilians. Given that children are the most vulnerable class of civilian in war, Kuper 1997 focuses entirely on the rights international law extends to child civilians, while Cohn and Goodwin-Gill 1994 analyzes the legal status of child combatants and the failure of international law to protect children forced to fight. Some of the recent literature, though, challenges the conventional wisdom on the laws of war. Traditionally, a distinction has been made between international and noninternational conflicts, but Crawford 2010 argues that this distinction has to end and that the laws applied must be the same irrespective of the nature of a violent conflict. And the essays in Rodin and Shue 2008 argue against the separation of the rules that govern the legality of going to war from those governing a combatant’s conduct during war.

  • Benvenisti, Eyal. The International Law of Occupation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993.

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    Examining the key principles of the law of occupation, and the conduct of various occupying powers during the 20th century, this well-written and clearly structured work provides a broad overview of the law of occupation. Assessing the legality of certain actions and decisions of occupiers, the work also sets up some principles as to how occupation can be managed lawfully.

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  • Cohn, Ilene, and Guy S. Goodwin-Gill. Child Soldiers: The Role of Children in Armed Conflicts. Oxford: Clarendon, 1994.

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    Comprehensive reference work that analyzes various key aspects of the phenomenon of child soldiers: from their status in international law and the failures of humanitarian law to effectively protect them, to the postconflict consequences of having participated in an armed conflict as a child soldier, and ways to prevent future recruitment.

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  • Crawford, Emily. The Treatment of Combatants and Insurgents under the Law of Armed Conflict. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

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    Focusing on prisoners of war and detainees in armed conflicts, this book argues that the distinction between international and noninternational conflicts under international humanitarian law needs to be dropped in favor of a harmonized law of war that can be uniformly applied to all types of armed conflict.

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  • Dinstein, Yoram. The International Law of Belligerent Occupation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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    Offers a detailed examination of the rights and obligations of occupying powers under international law. The work will be of particular interest to advanced students and military lawyers.

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  • Kuper, Jenny. International Law Concerning Child Civilians in Armed Conflict. Oxford: Clarendon, 1997.

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    This work provides a thorough examination of the laws of war as specifically applicable to child civilians, and proposes some methods by which the law can be rendered more effective.

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  • Rodley, Nigel, and Matt Pollard. The Treatment of Prisoners under International Law. 3d ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

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    The third edition of the seminal work that is already a classic on the rights of prisoners and detainees includes an updated analysis on this topic in light of the developments the war on terror brought about. It takes a decisive stand against the notion that torture can be legitimate.

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  • Rodin, David, and Henry Shue. Just and Unjust Warriors: The Moral and Legal Status of Soldiers. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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    The essays in this edited volume challenge conventional wisdom on the laws of war, especially on the separation of the rules that govern the justice of going to war from the rules governing soldier’s conduct in war, arguing against such a separation, which signals the potential need to revisit the entire rule book.

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  • Wills, Siobhán. Protecting Civilians: The Obligations of Peacekeepers. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

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    International humanitarian law obliges troops to protect civilians from serious human rights abuses. Wills examines this duty in detail, offers thoughts on the necessity of new protection methods in complex peace operations, and suggests ways in which troops can contend with such abuses wherever they encounter them.

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Crimes

An important aspect of the laws of war and jus post bellum, in particular, is the law governing the crimes committed during a conflict. A number of monographs and reference works cover the various complexities of this subject matter, from theoretical discussions and definitions of what constitutes a war crime, to the overlap between war crimes and other crimes in international law, such as genocide and crimes against humanity. The literature also accounts for war crimes in noninternational conflicts, and focuses on state responsibility, individual accountability, and the procedures and legal defenses during war crimes trials. Cassesse 2009 and Gutman, et al. 2007 are the best and most up-to-date reference resources. Scholars and practitioners would consider Boas, et al. 2009 helpful for its in-depth analysis of the laws related to various elements of international crimes and of the jurisprudence of the ICTY and ICTR, and those looking to develop an in-depth understanding of the issue of individual accountability will find Ratner, et al. 2009 particularly useful. Bassiouni 1999 provides a comprehensive examination of crimes against humanity and Dinstein and Tabory 1996 presents the views of key experts on the most complex issues related to war crimes. Those interested in the evolution of international humanitarian and criminal law should consult Meron 1998. The analysis of both national and international approaches to war crimes distinguishes McCormack and Simpson 1997.

  • Bassiouni, M. Cherif. Crimes Against Humanity in International Criminal Law. 2d rev. ed. The Hague: Kluwer Law, 1999.

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    The most authoritative textbook on crimes against humanity, this work analyzes the origins of such crimes in the laws of war, considers a range of international and national prosecutions of such crimes, as well as relevant statutes, and covers all key legal issues surrounding these crimes.

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  • Boas, Gideon, James L. Bischoff, and Natalie L. Reid. International Criminal Law Practitioner Library. Vol. 2, Elements of Crimes under International Law. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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    Building on Volume 1, which dealt with various aspects of “responsibility” under international law, this volume presents a critical analysis of the law related to various elements of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. The jurisprudence of the ICTY and the ICTR is the predominant focus of the work, but that of hybrid courts and the ICC are also considered. Excellent manual useful as a reference work for scholars and practitioners alike.

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  • Cassesse, Antonio. The Oxford Companion to International Criminal Justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

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    An unparalleled reference work, this book is divided into three parts: the first comprises twenty-one outstanding essays on the key issues in international humanitarian and criminal law; the second contains over 300 entries on the key personalities, institutions, doctrines, and procedures; and the third part includes over 330 synopses of cases from various domestic and international trials.

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  • Dinstein, Yoram, and Mala Tabory, eds. War Crimes in International Law. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1996.

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    This handbook contains chapters from key experts on the most complex issues relating to war crimes, ranging from the definitions of war crimes and state responsibility, to defenses in war crimes trials, and war crimes in noninternational armed conflicts. The book also includes the statutes of various tribunals.

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  • Gutman, Roy, David Rieff, and Anthony Dworkin, with Sheryl A. Mendez. Crimes of War 2.0: What the Public Should Know. New York: Norton, 2007.

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    Unique A–Z reference work on war crimes and an indispensable source of information on this topic. Examines recent conflicts, and provides definitions of terms and clarifications of the law. Impressive range of topics covered. Available in eleven languages.

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  • McCormack, Timothy L. H., and Gerry J. Simpson, eds. The Law of War Crimes: National and International Approaches. The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 1997.

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    Nine succinct chapters that cover all key issues related to the law of war crimes. The comprehensive analysis of national and international approaches to war crimes law in one volume makes this book unique.

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  • Meron, Theodor. War Crimes Law Comes of Age: Essays. Oxford: Clarendon, 1998.

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    This collection of the essays by one of the leading scholars in the field traces the evolution and development of international humanitarian and criminal law and related issues through the ages; the concluding essay bearing the title of the book presents an interesting synthesis of all key themes explored in the work.

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  • Ratner, Steven R., Jason S. Abrams, and James L. Bischoff. Accountability for Human Rights Atrocities in International Law: Beyond the Nuremberg Legacy. 3d ed. Oxford: Clarendon, 2009.

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    Focuses on the issue of individual accountability for violations of humanitarian and human rights law. Presents a thorough analysis of accountability as related to the main crimes( i.e., war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity) and a thoughtful appraisal of various accountability mechanisms, including national and international trials, truth commissions, and hybrid courts.

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