Security of the Civilian Population from the Consequences of Aerial Warfare in the Light of the Hague Rules of Aerial Warfare of 1923
3rd International Conference of PhD Students and Young Researchers SECURITY AS THE PURPOSE OF LAW CONFERENCE PAPERS 9-10 April 2015 Vilnius University Faculty of Law Vilnius, Lithuania
14 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2017
Date Written: April 7, 2015
The WWI had introduced a variety of unknown means and method of warfare. Among them, one type of warfare played especially significant part during Great War hostilities – the rise of the air power. From the technical newbie, which was introduced by the Wright Brothers in 1909 the capabilities of aircraft rapidly increase during the first years of war and after the conflict. However, despite the obvious technical development, the new type of warfare is responsible for spreading the fear and terror among civilian population. The first aerial bombings of London and other towns in the United Kingdom had devastating impact on morale of the non-combatants and caused extensive damage to their properties and infrastructure. The applicable international humanitarian law was outrun by this situation. The Fourth Hague Convention from 1907 was accepted before aircraft`s first combat deployment and lacked any specific provisions in this aspect. No other specific rules concerning the conduct of aerial warfare was adopted before the year 1914. When the gun finally silenced it was natural that international community was demanding an increase own security from the negative consequences of new developed types of warfare. Nevertheless, the main agenda concentrate over the problem of chemical weaponry and unrestricted submarine warfare, while the supreme powers of the mid- war world decide to regulate the conduct of modern combat during the Washington Disarmament Conference in 1922-1923. Quickly the conference became a playground for the state members, which focus on the post-war order rather than the solving the main issues of the international humanitarian law. However, the members of the conference had established an mixed commission of jurist and military officers who had been authorized to prepare a draft of aerial warfare code. The document was finally finished in 1923, and its know as Hague Rules of Aerial Warfare (HRAW), containing 60 articles concerning the use of the air power during the armed conflict. The proposed provisions outruns its times, introducing the 'prototypes' principles of military objective and proportionality, which later became an basic rules of contemporary law of armed conflict. As a way of protecting civilian population in urban areas, the draft proposed an restricted rules of engaging combatants in populated zones. Unfortunately, the HRAW has never been adopted as a treaty law. The futuristic approach to the issues of noncombatants security from the implications of unrestricted aerial bombings, as proposed by the mixed commission in 1923, have been ignored by the public opinion, which seemed to forget the fear and terror when the aerial actions against inhabited areas have been conducted by the fighting sides during the WWI. It is important to observe that the mid-war societies generally had been lulled into the false sense of security, considering that the eventual advantages of aircraft capabilities would overturn any possible threats of unregulated aerial warfare. Above explains why the states were unlike to accept any provisions which could constrain the future development of aviation. Nevertheless, the HRAW has significant role in shaping the future conventions and treaties, being considered a part of customary international law. The point of the paper is to examine the core of draft from 1923 and examine how the HRAW protected the civilian population from the consequences of the unlimited aerial warfare and how the 'security of noncombatants' principle and 'military way of thinking' have been balanced by this document.
Keywords: international humanitarian law, Hague Rules of Aerial Warfare 1923
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation