The Oxford guide to international humanitarian law
Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2020
Current world affairs are plagued by a plethora of conflicts, many of them marked by methods of warfare displaying a shocking disregard for the established principles of international humanitarian law (IHL). In some contexts, it seems that methods such as direct attacks against civilians and unarmed or wounded combatants, indiscriminate attacks, perfidious suicide-bombings, and the destruction and pillage of cultural objects have become commonplace, and it seems to have been forgotten that even wars have limits. The objective of this chapter is to outline the current state of the law regulating methods of warfare. For the purposes of the chapter, the rules of IHL regulating methods of warfare are distinguished according to their protective purpose, ie those aiming to protect civilians and the civilian population based on the principle of distinction9 are discussed separately from those aiming to protect combatants based on the prohibition of unnecessary suffering or other principles of IHL. For each method of warfare, the questions analysed will be the following. When and how has the method been restricted or prohibited in customary or treaty law? Does recourse to the restricted/prohibited method of warfare give rise to individual criminal responsibility? Why has the method been restricted/prohibited (ratio legis)? What is the exact content and meaning of the restriction/prohibition? Are there open questions regarding the interpretation of the elements of the restriction/prohibition? Are there recent examples of contemporary practices and policies which may be relevant to the rule in question?