While both moral discourse and international law have paid a great deal of attention to the protection of noncombatants in the way of armed conflict, particular characteristics of armed conflicts as they have developed since World War II have tended to erode both the idea of noncombatant immunity and specific efforts to protect noncombatants. This chapter examines the major contours of the treatment of noncombatant immunity in recent moral discourse and in the law of armed conflicts, then turns to the major challenges to protection of noncombatants posed by the nature of recent armed conflicts. It concludes with some reflections as to how the effort to maintain noncombatant immunity might be strengthened.
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