Shelling in Urban Area: When Does Imprecision Become Indiscriminate?
Proceedings of the 16th Bruges Colloquium: Urban Warfare 129 (2015)
10 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2016
Date Written: December 10, 2016
As the urbanization of global populations continues to increase, urban warfare has ever greater impacts on civilians. This reality of modern armed conflict has caused many, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, to question if international humanitarian law imposes, or should impose, a standard of precision such that certain weapons with wide area effects would be considered indiscriminate per se if used in urban areas. This article argues that, based on the provisions of Additional Protocol I and recent international tribunal decisions such as the Gotovina case before the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia, the law has not progressed to the point of making the use of weapons with wide area effects per se indiscriminate in urban areas. Rather, commanders much be increasingly sensitive to the principle of discrimination. Further, advancing technologies can provide significant assistance to both the attacker and defender in protecting civilians in urban areas.
Keywords: Law of Armed Conflict, Internaitonal Humanitarian Law, Law of War, Distinction, Discrimination, Weapons, Technology, Urban, Warfare, International Law
JEL Classification: K10, K33, R23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation