Code and conduct, an analysis of the modern law of armed conflict

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McAllister, Bradley Duncan
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The problem studied in this thesis is the dilemma of the modern international law of armed conflict, in its application to contemporary forms of warfare. Wars being fought today occur predominantly on an intrastate level. Meanwhile, the bulk of relevant international law applies mainly to inter-state forms of armed conflict. The discussion of this problem examines the emergence of the politically motivated mass army in the early nineteenth century. Older customary restraint in war broke down in favour of international legal codification. The impact of total war in the first half of the twentieth century broke down the effectiveness of the law of war. Reconstruction of the law created a greater distinction between non-combatant and combatant, in order to protect non-combatants from the effects of war. The modern law of war remains predominantly concerned with international armed conflict. This has created serious problems when attempting to apply laws of restraint to civil war. International organizations such as the Red Cross have emphasized the humanitarian value of the law of armed conflict in hopes of finding a means of applying law to intrastate warfare. As intrastate war surpasses international armed conflict in frequency, international law is again in danger of breaking down. As armed violence transcends the borders of the sovereign state, the state may be impeding efforts to apply effective international law to armed conflict.