Why did starvation not become the paradigmatic war crime in international law ?
Nicholas Mulder and Boyd van Dijk
Contingency in international law : on the possibility on different legal histories
Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2021
As remarkable as it may seem, in the early twentieth century starvation was simply not legible as an act that might fit in the category of war crimes or crimes against humanity. Although abuses against civilians directly committed by regular soldiers such as murder and torture were widely recognised as crimes, the starvation of civilians only came to be identified as such in 1977 with the Additional Protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions. International criminal liability for the use of starvation is an even more recent phenomenon, passed as part of the 2010 Kampala Amendments to the ICC's Rome Charter. What explains this extremely late emergence of starvation as a form of international injustice? Why was it not contested more successfully in previous days? Was this a matter of oversight, or had attempts to outlaw starvation strategies in wartime been deliberately undermined? This chapter argues that the late ban on wartime starvation can be best explained by the central role it plays in the use of blockage strategies in and around wartime. The legalised construction of blockage explains why international law has found it so incredibly difficult to contain the deadly effects of the starvation that this policy often causes.
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