An internationally-recognized authority on constitutional law,
national security law, and counterterrorism, William C. Banks
believes changing patterns of global conflict are forcing a
reexamination of the traditional laws of war. The Hague Rules, the
customary laws of war, and the post-1949 law of armed conflict no
longer account for nonstate groups waging prolonged campaigns of
terrorism -- or even more conventional insurgent attacks.
Recognizing that many of today's conflicts are low-intensity,
asymmetrical wars fought between disparate military forces, Banks's
collection analyzes nonstate armed groups and irregular forces
(such as terrorist and insurgent groups, paramilitaries, child
soldiers, civilians participating in hostilities, and private
military firms) and their challenge to international humanitarian
law. Both he and his contributors believe gaps in the laws of war
leave modern battlefields largely unregulated, and they fear state
parties suffer without guidelines for responding to terrorists and
their asymmetrical tactics, such as the targeting of civilians.
These gaps also embolden weaker, nonstate combatants to exploit
forbidden strategies and violate the laws of war.
Attuned to the contested nature of post-9/11 security and
policy, this collection juxtaposes diverse perspectives on existing
laws and their application in contemporary conflict. It sets forth
a legal definition of new wars, describes the status of new actors,
charts the evolution of the twenty-first-century battlefield, and
balances humanitarian priorities with military necessity. While the
contributors contest each other, they ultimately reestablish the
legitimacy of a long-standing legal corpus, and they rehumanize an
environment in which the most vulnerable targets, civilian
populations, are themselves becoming weapons against conventional
Subjects: Political Science, Law
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