Muddying the waters : the need for precision-guided terminology in the DoD Law of War Manual
Laurie R. Blank
The United States Department of Defense Law of War Manual : commentary and critique
Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2018
This chapter highlights the problematic use of terminology for persons throughout the United States Department of Defense Manual, which diminishes protections for civilians, endangering the animating force and core purpose of the law of armed conflict. The first section of this chapter provides the necessary foundation for understanding the inaccuracies and counterproductive terminology in the Manual with a discussion of LOAC's core principles and their reliance on the key categories of individuals in times of conflict. The chapter then examines three critical methodological problems the Manual evinces in its presentation of the categories of civilian and combatant, and the rules that rest on those definitions and categories : the creation of a third class of individuals, and the determination of status by the privileges an individual enjoys or does not enjoy-the reverse of the appropriate methodology. Finally the chapter analyzes the dangers these uncertainties and interpretative problems create for the protection of persons during armed conflict and the effective and consistent application of the law, most importantly the way in which the Manual's presentation of the legal definitions, categories and rules will undermine the protection of civilians during armed conflict.