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Classifying the conflict: A soldier's dilemma

31-03-2009 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 873, by Andrew Carswell

Modern armed forces are employed in a wide array of operations that range from peacetime riot control to outright international armed conflict. This article describes the challenges faced by the military leadership in classifying these various scenarios to determine the applicable international law.

 
 

Andrew Carswell is ICRC Regional Delegate to the Armed and Security Forces of Southern Africa, based in Pretoria.He is a former legal officer and military prosecutor of the Canadian Forces Office of the Judge Advocate General. 
 
Abstract 
Modern armed forces are employed in a wide array of operations that range from peacetime riot control to outright international armed conflict. Classifying these various scenarios to determine the applicable international law is rendered difficult by both the lack of clarity inherent in the law and the political factors that tend to enter the decision-making process. The author describes the major challenges of legal classification facing the military leadership, and proposes a solution to ensure that the intended beneficiaries of the law – from soldiers to civilians – do indeed receive its protection.  


 
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