Editorial: War in Cities: the Spectre of Total War

A scene of devastation, blanketed with grey dust, stretches into the distance in eerie silence. Walls riddled with bullets, buildings collapsing in on themselves, external walls blown away to reveal an intimate view of a bedroom or living room, streets blocked by piles of rubble. These sickening images of destruction – filmed from above by drones and shared on social media – probably best symbolize the current resurgence in urban warfare. Other images come to mind: bombed-out hospitals, children being pulled from wreckage, snipers roaming the maze of tunnels and walkways that have been blasted through the walls of now-uninhabited houses.

About the author

Vincent Bernard

Vincent Bernard
International Review of the Red Cross

Vincent BERNARD is editor in chief of the International Review of the Red Cross, a leading academic journal on humanitarian law, policy and action published by the ICRC and Cambridge University Press. He is also the head of the Law and Policy Forum, which leads ICRC’s engagement with expert audiences interested in teaching, researching and debating international humanitarian law (IHL). The unit runs the Humanitarium conference center in Geneva, the new Humanitarian Law and Policy blog, the IHL online training center etc. Vincent joined the ICRC in 1998 and worked in the field for 6 years in Dakar, Nairobi and Jerusalem. As head of the ICRC’s field communication set-up from 2006 to 2010 he travelled and worked in most of ICRC’s operational contexts. Prior to joining the organization, Vincent studied political science, law and international relations at the Political Science Institute and Law Faculty in Strasburg, The King’s College, London and the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, and taught law at the University of Marmara in Istanbul.

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