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The Image before the WeaponA Critical History of the Distinction between Combatant and Civilian$
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Helen M. Kinsella

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449031

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449031.001.0001

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Gender, Innocence, and Civilization

Gender, Innocence, and Civilization

Chapter:
(p.1) 1 Gender, Innocence, and Civilization
Source:
The Image before the Weapon
Author(s):

Helen M. Kinsella

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9780801449031.003.0001

This introductory chapter considers the inconsistencies and ambiguities surrounding the principle of distinction—a juridical principle formally distinguishing between combatants and civilians. The principle of distinction is a peremptory obligation of international humanitarian law; nonetheless, at the same time as it serves as one of the foundations of contemporary law and politics, the principle of distinction, taken on its own terms, has proved to be remarkably frail. To elaborate on the issues surrounding the principle of distinction and aid in the book's discussion, the chapter introduces a series of discourses—gender, innocence, and civilization—that mark the history of the principle of distinction. It is this series of discourses—each of which is itself composed of a confluence of political, moral, and legal judgments—that conditions the appearance of the civilian and the combatant and invests the distinction with a seemingly indisputable gravity and authority.

Keywords:   principle of distinction, international humanitarian law, discourses of gender, discourses of innocence, discourses of civilization, civilian, combatant

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