Questions tagged [rules-of-war]

Questions about international conventions regulating warfare.

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Is it ever legal for an army to target civilians?

I'm just the average Joe here with no knowledge of wars or politics, so please bear with my simple question. I've been watching the news in Ukraine and there's something I cannot understand. I see day-...
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0 votes
3 answers
356 views

Can a country declare all its mercenaries as its soldiers?

Ukraine hopes to save foreign soldiers sentenced to death, says lawmaker Britain has condemned the sentencing of the fighters as an "egregious breach" of the Geneva Convention, under which ...
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Does the Geneva Convention with respect to prisoners of war apply to mercenaries?

There are people of different nationalities fighting as part of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the current ongoing conflict. If they are captured, would the Geneva Convention's principles on giving ...
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7 votes
1 answer
347 views

What are the safeguards, set by the US military, to reduce the risk of committing war crimes?

I am talking here about war crimes committed by individuals or units (i.e., not representing a deliberate government/military policy), such as, e.g., the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam war. One ...
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What arguments do Russia-critics offer to support their view that Russia is committing genocide?

Following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, many critics of Russia have argued that this war is a genocide against the Ukranian people. I don't feel the need to provide any evidence for this, but ...
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Are military units marching in military parades considered military or civilian targets? [closed]

Russian Federation is widely expected to conduct its annual military parade on May 9th. The parade traditionally takes places on the Red Square with many "military units" marching over a ...
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Why doesn't Russia assassinate Zelenskyy with a rocket? [closed]

Remember Dzhokhar Dudaev? He led the Chechens during their first uprising against Russia in die 90s and was assassinated by Russia in 1996 who used a rocket to kill him in the streets of Grozny. ...
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6 votes
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Mechanism and legal status of arms transfers to Ukraine

I've read news reports that Russia threatens to attack US or NATO vehicles with armaments on Ukrainian territory. This surprised me on two counts, first that NATO vehicles would be making that part of ...
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26 votes
6 answers
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Why are Stinger (surface to air missiles) and Javelin (anti-tank missiles) not considered escalatory in war theater of Ukraine? [duplicate]

This is purely about military doctrine. Much effort has been made to avoid using US-made fighter planes in the Ukrainian theater because that would be seen as "escalation" and lead Russia ...
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3 votes
4 answers
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Minimizing civilian casualties during the siege of Mariupol?

What are the best practices of minimizing civilian casualties in cities under siege, as applied to the siege of Mariupol? I am looking for best practices from the perspective of world civilians, ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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What are the established methods/procedures to estimate the costs of an armed conflict?

There have always been eye-catching headlines about conflicts regarding their cost, e.g. The war in Iraq has cost USA x billion USD The US presence in Afghanistan has cost the exchequer y billion USD ...
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What is the meaning of the term "Genocide" as opposed to "Crimes against Humanity"? [closed]

Genocide as a term came into being relatively after World War 2. There used to be a term earlier called Crimes against Humanity which used to be used to describe similar events. This use of this term ...
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How does UK MP Bob Seely's 2018 paper "Definition of Contemporary Russian Conflict" hold up in 2022 in Ukraine? (Seely's seven elements)

After seeing his discussion in the BBC's 2022-03-11 video Is Russia setting the stage to use chemical weapons in Ukraine? - BBC Newsnight (my transcription with help of closed captions): The trouble ...
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4 answers
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What is the purpose of the siege of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol by the Russian invaders?

What are the geopolitical, military and humanitarian objectives that will be achieved following a successful siege of the civilian population of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol by the Russian military ...
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9 votes
2 answers
565 views

According to the Geneva Conventions, when can a Prisoner Of War give an interview on camera?

There's been some debate online about footage of POWs talking to the camera to say more than name, rank, and serial number, but has there been any serious academic writing on the limits of the "...
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7 votes
2 answers
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Is it illegal for Russia to kill Ukrainian President Zelenskyy?

There are some actions in war that are designated as war crimes, such as targeting civilians, torture, and systematic sexual violence or enslavement. Some of these actions hinge on the definition of &...
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43 votes
5 answers
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Is it politically acceptable to incentivize soldiers of another country to desert?

If the USA (or another western country) wants to help Ukraine without sending troops, one thing it can do is to convince Russian soldiers in Ukraine to desert the Russian army, for example, by ...
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1 vote
2 answers
290 views

How much bite does the Mutual Defense Clause of the Treaty of the European Union (TEU) have?

As mentioned in other answers regarding the 2022 Ukraine conflict, there is a defense clause for the existing EU countries. I looked and found §42.7 TEU, If a Member State is the victim of armed ...
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6 answers
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Isn't sending weapons to Ukraine an escalation?

As the title asks, isn't sending weapons to Ukraine an escalation in the war? Perhaps, due to this not being a 'declared war' or an 'invasion' (from the Russian pov), so sending weapons to Ukraine isn'...
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5 votes
0 answers
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Is the Red Cross involved yet in checking up on prisoners of war in Ukraine?

Is the Red Cross involved yet in checking up on prisoners of war in Ukraine? I don't see it mentioned here or here.
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7 votes
2 answers
557 views

Is Putin a valid military target in this war? What about Moscow based senior political and governmental figures with roles related to the war effort?

Putin apparently believes the head of state of Ukraine is a valid target, suitable to be dispatched by any means. Or at least that seems to be a reasonable interpretation of some reports. Doesn't ...
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Right to declare a war in modern time

While browsing random articles I found an interesting fact - that USA never formally declared a war in Vietnam. After googling a bit more it turned out that since WW2 USA never formally declared a war ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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Did Qassim Suleimani have any kind of diplomatic status while he was in Iraq?

If so, what would be the direct consequences?
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Are prisoners of war paid by their captors today?

The Third Geneva Convention calls for all POWs to receive a monthly allowance from their captors, separate from anything they may be paid for working while imprisoned, “to enable prisoners to improve ...
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18 votes
4 answers
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Under what law can the U.S. arrest International Criminal Court (ICC) judges over war crimes probe?

US threatens to arrest ICC judges over war crimes probe (Deutsche Welle) Is there any such law that would allow the U.S. impinge on another nation's sovereignty in order to prevent ICC judges from ...
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Does Russia need to treat the captured Ukranian sailors as POWs?

Some of the Ukranian sailors that were captured/arrested on their way to the Sea of Azov in November 2018 have been shown on Russian state TV with recorded statements. Ukraine demands that they are ...
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4 votes
4 answers
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What are the steps towards officially recognizing a Cold War?

The Guardian argues about so called "Cold War 2.0": Warnings of a return to cold war politics have been a staple of European debate for three years, but in recent weeks many western diplomats, ...
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4 votes
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Legality of attacking an occupier by third-party forces within partially-occupied state

Suppose state A is (illegally, militarily) occupying some of the territory of state B (denote the occupied part B1 and the unoccupied part B2). Suppose also that state B is allied with state C, and ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Skripal vs. Castro poisonings, international law

Theresa May says the March 4 attack on Sergei Skripal is a "flagrant breach of international law and the chemical weapons convention." Would the (alleged) (attempted) Castro poisoning breach the ...
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-1 votes
2 answers
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Why don't leaders of countries fight instead of armies in a war?

When there is a war between two countries the military of each country fights against each other. But why don't the two leaders of both countries fight against each other and settle the issue. I ...
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9 votes
1 answer
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Are you legally allowed to fight a war against terror?

So a different question asked if the pentagon was a legitimate military target. And an answer ended up saying, that the law of war does not apply to a terrorist organization but rather civilian law. ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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Was the pentagon a legitimate military target? [closed]

Since the pentagon and WTC had military offices wouldn't this make it a military target according to the applicable international treaties such as the Geneva conventions?
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-4 votes
1 answer
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What's the origin of the concept of "no first use"?

What does it mean "no first use"? Have NATO applied this concept ? In what ways? Who was the first to develop this concept? What are the work laying the foundation of the concept?
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9 votes
2 answers
640 views

Would killing ISIS journalists be considered a war crime? If so, could ISIS use the ICC?

If ISIS had journalists on the ground in the Battle of Mosul (2016-17) that recently concluded, and they were clearly journalists, and clearly weren't combatants; would their Iraqi enemy be allowed to ...
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5 votes
3 answers
712 views

Are car bombs considered a conventional weapon under international law?

If a "Red line" is drawn by the Obama administration over the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, because it is unconventional weapons, why is there no red line drawn for the use of a ...
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6 votes
2 answers
419 views

Why is the world silent on the alleged use of phosphorus in Aleppo?

Ok I can understand that Russia has the Veto power but still there is not even a word of condemnation on use of White Phosphorus by Russia on the innocent civilians in Aleppo. (Worthy note that White ...
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4 votes
1 answer
463 views

Nuremberg defense for common soldiers and war of aggression

Under international law, for example the Hague, Geneva conventions and case law estabilished by various international bodies such as ICC, UNSC, UNGA, International Military Tributal (IMT)... Are ...
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10 votes
2 answers
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Separatists against National Army -> Civil War?

As an European citizen, the Ukrain war happening now is worrying me. On side, the official Armed Forces of Ukraine and the separatists on the other side. Is this a civil war? This is a little ...
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9 votes
1 answer
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What characterizes an act of war as "war crime?"

With the Israel-Gaza tension going on, I hear a lot of talk about "war crimes" by the UN. However, to me the war going on doesn't seem different at all from any other war, and leaves me to wonder how ...
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8 votes
2 answers
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Does international regulation forbid a country to kill children in a conflict if the other part uses them as human shields?

The question is motivated by the Israel-Palestine conflict, but it may be asked/answered in general. I am wondering if Geneva conventions or any other international regulation forbid a country (Israel ...
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8 votes
4 answers
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Was there ANY official condemnation of Hamas over use of civilians and especially children as human shields?

There is ample proof that Hamas is using Palestinian civilians - even children - as human shields. From situating military objects in the middle of homes/in schools/hospitals etc.., to using ...
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Is there a law to prevent global nuclear war when the terrorist are able steal nuke technology from a lot of country that have nukes? [closed]

Is there any difference for terrorist to test their nuke in a lofty tone without a official status in UN like the North Korea or to be inconspicuous country like the India If there are too much ...
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18 votes
10 answers
3k views

How could it happen that Ukrainian soldiers did not try to defend against the invasion?

What I do not understand about the current crisis in Crimea is how this invasion could be successful without anyone firing a gun. Weren't there Ukrainian soldiers stationed in Crimea? Maybe the ...
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6 votes
2 answers
367 views

Can a Turkish involvement on a military strike on Syria trigger the NATO mutual defense clause?

If Turkey joins a military strike on Syria and Syria strikes back at Turkey, can Turkey invoke NATO's mutual defense clause according to article 5?
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12 votes
4 answers
8k views

Does Geneva Convention apply to countries which aren't signatories?

In a hypothetical situation, if a country which is a signatory to a Geneva Convention is fighting a war against a country which is NOT a signatory, is the former country obligated to abide by Geneva ...
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