The New Griffin of War: Hybrid International Armed Conflicts

34 Harv. Int’l Rev. 16 (Winter 2013)

4 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2013 Last revised: 27 Aug 2013

See all articles by Shane Reeves

Shane Reeves

United States Military Academy, West Point

Robert Barnsby


Date Written: October 15, 2012


The continued effectiveness and enforceability of the Law of Armed Conflict is highly dependent on whether the expressed rules remain definitive, understood, and accepted in today's complicated conflicts. Debates concerning indefinite detention at Guantanamo Bay, the use of drone aircraft, the required protections afforded civilian participants in warfare, and various other contentious topics highlight a troubling lack of unanimity in the international community concerning the Law of Armed Conflict. Increasingly, the treaties and customary laws of the past century that comprise the Law of Armed Conflict, while recognized as extremely meaningful, have proven incapable of satisfactorily resolving the myriad of legal issues arising from modern warfare.The hybridization of warfare is exacerbating already complicated regulatory problems and may ultimately render the Law of Armed Conflict irrelevant. If the trend toward viewing the Law of Armed Conflict as confusing, subjective, and ineffectual continues, conflict participants, as well as much of the international community, may begin to see this area of international law as more of an anachronistic nuisance than a legal imperative. As the law's authority diminishes, traditional legal prohibitions will be violated with impunity and only popular morality will remain to limit actions in war. State and non-state adversaries alike will deem abiding by these long-standing legal norms too significant a disadvantage to continue. This article argues that the international community must recognize that the effectiveness and practicality of the Law of Armed Conflict is increasingly questioned as the hybridization of warfare becomes the new norm. Ignoring this trend, and believing that current legal conditions are sufficient, expedites the increasingly ineffectual regulation of contemporary armed conflicts and continues to undermine confidence in the Law of Armed Conflict in the age of hybrid warfare.

Keywords: hybrid warfare, Law of Armed Conflict, international humanitarian law, law of war, asymmetric warfare, lawfare, conventional warfare, terrorism, guerilla war, hybrid war

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Reeves, Shane and Barnsby, Robert, The New Griffin of War: Hybrid International Armed Conflicts (October 15, 2012). 34 Harv. Int’l Rev. 16 (Winter 2013). Available at SSRN:

Shane Reeves (Contact Author)

United States Military Academy, West Point ( email )

600 Thayer Rd
West Point, NY 10996
United States

Robert Barnsby

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics