Home » Notes » A Chink in the Armor: How a Uniform Approach to Proportionality Analysis Can End the Use of Human Shields

A Chink in the Armor: How a Uniform Approach to Proportionality Analysis Can End the Use of Human Shields

PDF · Margaret T. Artz · Nov-28-2012 · 45 VAND. J. TRANSNAT’L L. 1447 (2012)

The appropriate response to human shields is a recurring issue in modern warfare. Technological asymmetry, disparate obligations, and doctrinal divergence between state and nonstate adversaries combine to make civilians account for 84 percent of combat deaths. Just as a slot machine entices a gambler though he rarely wins, the international community’s inconsistent response to human shields has placed shield users on an intermittent reinforcement schedule, thereby ensuring that this tactic remains part of insurgent strategy. Long-term protection of civilians requires eliminating this tactic.  Principles of behavior science indicate that an effective way to do so is to uniformly remove its desired consequence— combatants must never allow the presence of shields to impede access to the shielded military objective. This approach is supported by a broader, more forward-thinking conception of the principle of proportionality as reflected in current treaty and customary international law.




Leave a Reply

ExpressO Top 10 Law Review

ANNOUNCEMENTS

We are pleased to announce the 2013-2014 VJTL New Members

Coming up:

The Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law hosted a symposium called “The Role of Non-State Actors in International Law” at Vanderbilt University Law School in February 2013.

The October issue of the Journal will showcase articles by distinguished symposium guests including:

  • Mr. Ian Smillie, “Blood Diamonds and Non-State Actors”
  • Professor Jean d’Aspremont, “Cognitive Conflicts and the Making of International Law from Empirical Concord to Conceptual Discord in Legal Scholarship”
  • Professor Peter J. Spiro, “Constraining Global Corporate Power: A Very Short Introduction”
  • Professor Suzanne Katzenstein
  • Professor Peter Margulies
  • Professor Harlan G. Cohen

 

Explore Other Vanderbilt Law Resources