Is Formalism a Friend or Foe?

Saving the Principle of Distinction by Applying Function over Form

in Journal of International Humanitarian Legal Studies
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Contemporary armed conflicts are known to blur the categories of civilians and combatants, leading to problems with the principle of distinction. These categories are the result of an essentially formalised IHL, and have become less accurate by being over- or under-inclusive. Although formalism is vital to IHL’s functioning, maintaining it in its present excessive strength perpetuates distinction problems. In numerous cases a functional inroad based on actual conduct has been introduced, for instance with the concept of direct participation in hostilities. This solution should be implemented across a wider spectrum. Where the two categories are difficult to tell apart, a functional approach for one category benefits the other. This article shows how this can be attained by using existing rules and principles of IHL, such as the concept of military objectives and the prohibition on terrorism, or newer rules.

Is Formalism a Friend or Foe?

Saving the Principle of Distinction by Applying Function over Form

in Journal of International Humanitarian Legal Studies

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References

16

J. Klabbers‘Constitutionalism Lite’1 Intl. Organizations L. Rev. 31 (2004) at 47 51–54.

46

Sandozsupra note 29 para. 1679.

74

Schauersupra note 41 at 30.

77

Sandozsupra note 29 para. 2024.

79

Sandozsupra note 29 para. 2713.

80

Sandoz ibid. para. 2706.

83

Tomansupra note 37 at 174.

86

Sandozsupra note 29 paras. 2278–2281.

87

For the other examplessupra Part 1 and accompanying footnotes.

93

Hubersupra note 15 at 431 (“Si Ie droit de la guerre […] doit être une réalité iI est nécessaire de rétablir la notion fondamentale […] de I'objectif militaire et de réaffirmer la distinction essentielle qui existe entre combattants et civils.”).

94

Kleffnersupra note 49.

98

Sandozsupra note 29 para. 2017.

110

Sandozsupra note 29 para. 2033. Cf. Mexico’s declaration on AP I art. 52.

136

 See also Pictetsupra note 26 at 203 (“This list is not in our opinion to be regarded as comprehensive”).

138

Lauterpachtsupra note 130.

141

Pictetsupra note 26 at 30.

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