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Readings: Gabriella Blum, ‘The Individualization of War: From Collectivism to Individualism in the Regulation of Armed Conflicts’

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Friday, April 19, 2013 at 11:19 AM

Harvard Law School professor Gabriella Blum has posted a book chapter to SSRN, “The Individualization of War: From Collectivism to Individualization in the Regulation of Warfare,” appearing in Sarat, Douglas, Umphrey, eds., Law and War (Stanford UP 2013 forthcoming).  This chapter is an important step in a long-running project Gabby Blum has been pursuing on the question of whether and how warfare and the law of war are gradually turning from “collectivism” to “individualism.”  Here is the abstract:

In a celebrated humanitarian move, wartime regulation has evolved from a predominantly state-oriented set of obligations — which viewed war as an inter-collective effort — to a more individual-focused regime. In fact, the regulation of armed conflict increasingly resembles, at least in aspiration, the regulation of police activities, in which it is the welfare of individuals, rather than the collective interest of the state, that takes center stage. I demonstrate that many contemporary debates over the laws of war, including the distinction between the jus ad bellum and jus in bello, proportionality, detention of combatants, and reparations for victims implicate exactly the tension between collectivism and individualism in the regulation of armed conflict. I further argue that notwithstanding the humanitarian benefits of the move to greater concern over the human rights of those affected by war, reimagining war as a policing operation harbors real dangers that must not be overlooked. These include imagining more of policing as war, inhibiting military action for the protection of others, and inviting more aggressive acts “short of war” against targets around the world.

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