The issues of "force protection" - to what extent may a State act to protect its soldiers even when it may result in greater civilian harm? - and "compatriot partiality" - to what extent may a State act to insure safety of civilians under its effective control over the safety of other civilians? - dilemmas are passionately debated both in just war morality and in international law. Part I of this article presents the main positions in just war moral scholarship regarding the resolutions "force protection" and "compatriot partiality" dilemmas. It demonstrates how different supporters of each of the main recognized positions often tend to oversimplify proportionality-related dilemmas. Part II assesses the relevant international law as derived from the practice of States and examines whether it has done a better job to address these dilemmas. It exposes that generally speaking, customary international law has been much less susceptible to oversimplification tendencies than just war scholarship has. On the contrary, it has attempted to face war's inescapable moral complexities by developing norms which take into account the particular nature of decision-making on each distinct level of war. Thus, this essay concludes that legal scholarship must take notice of these issues, lest it fails to reflect the practice of States, provides morally simplistic solutions to complex moral/legal dilemmas and becomes detached from the reality it intends to regulate.
By entering this website, you consent to the use of technologies, such as cookies and analytics, to customise content, advertising and provide social media features. This will be used to analyse traffic to the website, allowing us to understand visitor preferences and improving our services. Learn more