Learning to Live with (a Little) Uncertainty: The Operational Aspects and Consequences of the Geography of Conflict Debate
161 University of Pennsylvania Law Review Online 347 (2013)
15 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2013 Last revised: 10 Aug 2013
Date Written: February 25, 2013
This Essay, written as a response to Professor Jennifer Daskal's thought-provoking article on the geography of the battlefield, addresses the debate over the geographical parameters of armed conflict through a focus on the operational consequences of efforts to draw geographical lines setting the parameters of conflict.The question of geographical application of LOAC is both highly relevant in the most pragmatic sense – the difference between being in an area of armed conflict or not can literally be life or death – and also not susceptible to specific and concrete definition. This combination of relevance and thorniness has led not only to extensive debates about how to conceptualize the geographic parameters of the battlespace in an armed conflict but also to alternative paradigms for regulating the use of force through rules-based frameworks, hybrid paradigms or other mechanisms. This essay highlights two primary concerns as a counterpoint to the idea of a new set of rules based on shifting geographical combat zones, even in light of the potential procedural benefits such new rules and frameworks might engender: 1) how the lack of strategic clarity trickles down to affect operational and tactical clarity, and 2) the long-term consequences for the development and implementation of the law of armed conflict.
Keywords: law of armed conflict, IHL, international humanitarian law, armed conflict, battlefield, zone of combat, drone strikes, international law
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