The Customs and Laws of War with Regards to Civilians in Times of Conflict
Author: Alexander Gillespie
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
This unique new work of reference traces the origins of the modern laws of warfare from the earliest times to the present day. Relying on written records from as far back as 2400 BCE, and using sources ranging from the Bible to Security Council Resolutions, the author pieces together the history of a subject which is almost as old as civilisation itself. The author shows that as long as humanity has been waging wars it has also been trying to find ways of legitimising different forms of combatants and ascribing rules to them, protecting civilians who are either inadvertently or intentionally caught up between them, and controlling the use of particular classes of weapons that may be used in times of conflict. Thus it is that this work is divided into three substantial parts: Volume 1 on the laws affecting combatants and captives; Volume 2 on civilians; and Volume 3 on the law of arms control. This second book on civilians examines four different topics. The first topic deals with the targetting of civilians in times of war. This discussion is one which has been largely governed by the developments of technologies which have allowed projectiles to be discharged over ever greater areas, and attempts to prevent their indiscriminate utilisation have struggled to keep pace. The second topic concerns the destruction of the natural environment, with particular regard to the utilisation of starvation as a method of warfare, and unlike the first topic, this one has rarely changed over thousands of years, although contemporary practices are beginning to represent a clear break from tradition. The third topic is concerned with the long-standing problems of civilians under the occupation of opposing military forces, where the practices of genocide, collective punishments and/or reprisals, and rape have occurred. The final topic in this volume is about the theft or destruction of the property of the enemy, in terms of either pillage or the intentional devastation of the cultural property of the opposition. As a work of reference this set of three books is unrivalled, and will be of immense benefit to scholars and practitioners researching and advising on the laws of warfare. It also tells a story which throws fascinating new light on the history of international law and on the history of warfare itself.