Humanitarian law and direct participation in hostilities by private contractors or civilian employees
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Chicago journal of international law, Vol. 5, no. 2, Winter 2005, p. 511-546
Michael N. Schmitt
Over the past decade, many military affairs analysts have touted the advent of a "revolution in military affairs." Although generally framed in the context of those technological advances that make possible four-dimensional, network- centric warfare, it is the dramatic "civilianization" of conflict that may prove normatively more revolutionary. In no conflict has the civilian footprint supporting military operations been larger than in Iraq. This paper begins by examining civilian employee and private contractor involvement in Operation Iraqi Freedom ("OIF") as a case study in the contemporary nature of such participation. It then assesses the possibility of either de jure or de facto integration of civilians into the armed forces. Concluding that integration will be rare, the article turns to the issue of when it is that civilians can be classified as "directly participating in hostilities," thereby becoming both lawful targets of attack and prosecutable for their actions. Finally, it concludes with an analysis of various scenarios involving civilian participation.