The duty to make amends to victims of armed conflict
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Tulane journal of international and comparative law, Vol. 22, issue 1, Winter 2013, p. 87-117
Scott T. Paul
In the past decade, calls for monetary payments by warring parties to the civilians they harm have become significantly louder and more prominent. The law of armed conflict permits parties to harm civilans as long as the harm is not excessive to the concrete and direct military advantage they anticipate gaining through an attack. This Article examines the current state of international law regarding duties owed to victims suffering harm as a result of lawful combat operations, and it discusses the moral obligations these warring parties owe to them because they caused the harm. The Article notes that civilians who suffer incidental losses as a result of lawful acts during armed conflict are not currently entitled to any compensation or reparation and that the parties responsible for causing them harm typically ignore them. This Article argues that the solution proposed by international civil society groups and practiced by some states, known as "making amends", meets an important but long overlooked moral obligation on warring parties.