Losing the forest for the trees : Syria, law, and the pragmatics of conflict recognition
Laurie R. Blank, Geoffrey S. Corn
Host item entries:
Vanderbilt journal of transnational law, Vol. 46, no. 3, May 2013, p. 693-746
Photocopies. - Source : http://www.vanderbilt.edu/jotl/manage/wp-content/uploads/Corn-FINAL.pdf (last accessed on 07.09.2015)
The international community's year-long reluctance to characterize the situation in Syria as an armed conflict highlights a clear disparity between the object and purpose of the LOAC and the increasingly formalistic interpretation of the law's triggering provisions. Focusing on Syria, this article critiques the overly technical approach to the definition of non-international conflict currently in vogue—based on Prosecutor v. Tadic's framework of intensity and organization—and how this approach undermines the original objectives of common article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. This overly legalistic focus on an elements test, rather than the totality of the circumstances, means that the world has witnessed a retrograde of international humanitarian efficacy: Syria appears to be a lawless conflict like those that inspired common article 3—the regime employs its full combat capability to shell entire cities, block humanitarian assistance, and target journalists and medical personnel directly. The LOAC is specifically designed to address exactly this type of conduct, and yet the discourse on Syria highlights the dangers of allowing over-legalization to override—and undermine—logic, resulting in a deleterious impact on human life.