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The Image before the Weapon – A Critical History of the Distinction between Combatant and Civilian - Cornell Scholarship Online
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The Image before the Weapon: A Critical History of the Distinction between Combatant and Civilian

Helen M. Kinsella


Since at least the Middle Ages, the laws of war have distinguished between combatants and civilians under the principle of distinction. The principle of distinction is invoked in contemporary conflicts as if there were an unmistakable and sure distinction to be made between combatant and civilian. It is precisely the distinction between civilian and combatant, upon which the protection of civilians is founded, that cannot be taken as self-evident or stable. The history of international humanitarian law itself admits the difficulty of such a distinction. The book explores the evolution of the c ... More

Keywords: laws of war, combatants, civilians, principle of distinction, contemporary conflicts, international humanitarian law, warfare, armed conflict

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2011 Print ISBN-13: 9780801449031
Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016 DOI:10.7591/cornell/9780801449031.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Helen M. Kinsella, author
Associate Professor of Political Science, the University of Wisconsin-Madison