Geneva Convention compliance in Iraq and Afghanistan
Elizabeth Grimm Arsenault
Do the Geneva Conventions matter ?
Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2017
US compliance with the Geneva Conventions in Iraq and Afghanistan appeared to vary with the particular subject matter and battle space. In military operations during the last decade, the US assessed the legality of virtually every proposed target to avoid the intentional targeting of civilians. Legal specialists also, however, flagrantly overlooked Common Article 3’s minimum prescription that all captured individuals have the right to be treated humanely. This variation in compliance is explained by the shift in mission objectives: When the US approached these conflicts as purely counterterror operations, the goal was to disrupt the enemy. However, under the population-centric counterinsurgency mission, noncompliance with the Geneva Conventions equated to mission failure. The shift from counterterrorism to counterinsurgency increased US sensitivity to civilian casualties and the operational consequences of detainee abuse. By adapting practice to comply with the Conventions, the people became the prize in the war on terror.
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