The double-edged sword : religious influences on international humanitarian law
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Melbourne journal of international law, Vol. 6, issue 1, May 2005,  p.
International humanitarian lawyers tend to relegate the role of religion to one of the historical sources of international law. This article demonstrates the way in which religion has an ongoing and complex relationship with international humanitarian law. By examining the role that religion has played both historically and in modern conflicts the author argues that even a secular lawyer who is committed to humanitarian norms has good reason to develop a better understanding of the power of religion if humanitarian law is to prosper in many cultural contexts. By examining religious teachings on the nature of humanity and the rules of war, and considering the religious influence on legal compliance and leadership, the article demonstrates that religious influence is double-edged. While religion can both undermine and support humanitarian law, the author concludes that closer engagement with religious teachings and leaders can be beneficial even for secular proponents of humanitarian law.