A broad overview of the law of armed conflict in the age of terror
Shane R. Reeves and David Lai
The fundamentals of counterterrorism law
Chicago : Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice, American Bar Association, 2014
At the most fundamental level, law and war are seemingly irreconcilable terms. “Law” implies an orderly polity where human relations and behaviors are governed usually by plentiful and inescapable rules, whereas the term “war” connotes an abandonment of restraint of rules by substituting in their place brutal force. For the greater part of recorded history, the relationship between the imposed obligations of law and the violence of war best understood as described by Cicero, the famous Roman philosopher, when he stated “inter arma leges silent” – in times of war the laws are silent. However, despite an absence of formal legal obligations, belligerents made some efforts to limit the brutality of warfare, particularly when men began to fight as organized groups, through informal rules and customs. Seventeenth-century jurist Hugo Grotius, recognizing these customary obligations while simultaneously understanding the savagery of hostilities, noted that in warfare, belligerents must “not believe that either nothing is allowable, or that everything is”.