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Laws of War in a Time of Terror
Professionals in the sector label the laws of war in two ways: in terms of international humanitarian law (the one preferred by humanitarian organisations and many scholars of international law) and the law of armed conflict (the one preferred by the military). In general, an emphasis on the military’s conception of the law of war will favour the needs of the military as opposed to those of civilians, whereas the humanitarian approach might attribute greater value to the protection of civilians as opposed to optimal military performance. The author addresses the question of the impact of the ‘war on terror’ on the laws of war and asks, more specifically: 1) whether it has influenced the balance between states and NGOs; 2) whether it is likely to reinforce or weaken civil protection. Evangelista also queries whether, in the absence of responsible moral leadership at political level, the culture of military honour will suffice in itself to prevent an escalation of barbarism, and concludes that perhaps we can lay hope in the sense of justice common to the majority of soldiers and officials who have resisted the Bush administration’s attempts to make ‘worst practice’ the basis of international law in the future.