Is International Humanitarian Law Lapsing into Irrelevance in the War on International Terror?
43 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2004
Date Written: September 2004
This article uses an economic narrative to examine the theoretical adequacy of applying humanitarian law to the regulation of the war on international terror. I argue that problems inherent with collective action impede the ability of this law to generate an optimal level of global security, and that the absence of the element of reciprocity reduces states' compliance. The paper discusses factors that mitigate these phenomena, such as audience costs, negative externalities of public conscience, NGOs' activities and the promotion of the humanitarian approach to humanitarian law by international bodies and courts. However, I maintain that the controversy among states over how to apply humanitarian law to the war on international terror might prevent these factors from counterbalancing the decrease in humanitarian law's status. Humanitarian law is therefore in danger of lapsing into irrelevance in this war.
Keywords: International humanitarian law, international human rights, international terrorism, global security, collective action, externalities, audience costs, terror, war on terror, terrorism
JEL Classification: K00, K30, K33, D70, D72, C70
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation