Classical and Political Humanitarianisms in an Era of Military Interventionism and the War on Terror

Ambiguity, Prescription, Jus in Bello and Jus ad Bellum

in Journal of International Humanitarian Legal Studies
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This paper scrutinises the modus operandi of classical and political humanitarianism: the use of ambiguity and prescription to frame calls for international action to protect civilians, and public commentary on jus in bello and jus ad bellum. It does so by innovatively considering the perspectives of belligerents alongside those of humanitarian actors, so as to identify how belligerents have responded to the two humanitarian modus operandi, and to ascertain the connection of humanitarian actors to the wars and international military interventions that they have implicitly or explicitly called for or endorsed. The paper finds that the response of belligerents differs from what both classical and political humanitarians expect. Even where humanitarians maintain ambiguity, the intention to will military action remains present and even the documentation and reporting of violence will bolster military intervention. Such consequences will be perceptible to belligerents, who may restrict humanitarian space. When humanitarians advance jus ad bellum perspectives, the humanitarian identity envisioned by classicists is not necessarily compromised. But belligerents are positively influenced by such perspectives only when those perspectives coincide with their own position.