Proportionality in International Law

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2014-04-15
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
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Proportionality is intimately linked to the overarching concepts of self-defense, lawful force, and the controlled application of violence. It is one of the most visible facets of humanitarian law designed to reduce unnecessary human suffering and avoid excessive damage to property, and the natural environment. However, its application has come under renewed scrutiny and sustained controversy as a result of wars against non-state actors and from the extensive use of drones, human shields, cyber war techniques, and counterinsurgency tactics.

Proportionality in International Law critically assesses the law of proportionality in normative terms combining abstract philosophical and legal analysis with highly emotive contemporary combat cases. The principle of proportionality permits actions that are logically linked to the intended goal, and thus defines the permissible boundaries for the initiation and conduct of modern wars. The case studies discussed in this book are predominantly from the perspective of those who make decisions in the midst of armed conflict, bringing analytic rigor to the debates as well as sensitivity to facts on the ground. The authors analyze modern usages of proportionality across a wide range of contexts enabling a more complete comprehension of the values that it preserves. This book contrasts the applications of proportionality in both jus ad bellum (the law and morality of resort to force) and within jus in bello (the doctrines applicable for using force in the midst of conflicts). Proportionality in International Law provides the reader with a unique interdisciplinary approach, offering practitioners and policymakers alike greater clarity over how proportionality should be understood in theory and in practice.

Author Biography

Michael Newton is Professor of the Practice of Law at Vanderbilt University Law School. He formerly taught at the United States Military Academy at West Point and at the Judge Advocate General's School and Center. Professor Newton has written extensively about use of force issues, international jurisprudence, and the enforcement of international law. His co-authored work, Enemy of the State: The Trial and Execution of Saddam Hussein (with Michael Scharf) won book-of-the-year honors from the American Section of International Association of Penal Law. He also won Article of Year honors in 2011 for his article entitled Evolving Equality: The Development of the International Defense Bar, published in the Stanford Journal of International Law.

Larry May is the W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy, Professor of Law, and Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt University. He has published over thirty books, including book length studies of each of the four crimes under the ICC's jurisdiction. His books have won awards in philosophy, law, and international relations. He has also published extensively on the history of the Just War tradition, especially on the work of Grotius and Hobbes.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. What is Proportionality?

3. Proportionality: A Multiplicity of Meanings

4. Proportionality in the Just War Tradition

5. Proportionality in International Humanitarian Law

6. Proportionality in Human Rights Law and Morality

7. The Uniqueness of Jus in Bello Proportionality

8. Countermeasures and Counterinsurgency

9. Human Shields and Risk

10. Targeted Killings and Proportionality in Law: Two Models

11. The Nature of War and the Idea of "Cyberwar"

12. Thresholds of Jus in Bello Proportionality



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