International Law and the Politics of Urban Air Operations

By Matthew C. Waxman | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Chapter Two

The law of armed conflict1 is the body of norms regulating the conduct of states and combatants engaged in armed hostilities. International law generally derives from both treaties (conventions and agreements among states) and custom. The contemporary law of armed conflict regime draws heavily from the Hague Conventions, negotiated at the peace conferences of 1899 and 1907, and the Geneva Conventions,2 as well as numerous agreements that limit the means and conduct of hostilities.3 Equally, and in some instances more, important for regulation of air operations is “customary law.”4

The term “law of war” is often used interchangeably with “law of armed conflict,” even though the legal requirements placed on parties sometimes depend on the type of conflict or operation being waged. This report is concerned with the legal norms that apply across the spectrum of conflict and, for clarity's sake, employs throughout the term “law of armed conflict.” On the applicability of the law of armed conflict to military operations other than war, and some ambiguities surrounding this issue, see Timothy P. Bulman, “A Dangerous Guessing Game Disguised as Enlightening Policy: United States Law of War Obligations During Military Operations Other Than War,” Military Law Review, Vol. 159 (1999).
The 1977 Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 (often referred to simply as Protocol I and Protocol II) spell out specific sets of rules to govern international and internal conflicts. The United States has not ratified the Protocols; it has declared its intention to be bound by them to the extent that they reflect customary law. See Michael J. Matheson, “The United States Position on the Relation of Customary International Law to the 1977 Protocols Additional to the 1949 Geneva Conventions,” American University Journal of International Law and Policy, Vol. 2 (1987), pp. 419–431.
For example, the 1925 Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare (“Gas Protocol”) prohibits the use of some types of chemical weapons.
Theodor Meron, “The Continuing Role of Custom in the Formation of International Humanitarian Law,” American Journal of International Law, Vol. 90 (1996). The growing importance of customary law in the law of armed conflict regime is highlighted by a decision of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in Prosecutor v. Tadic, where the court emphasized, among other things, that certain customary rules of warfare apply in internal as well as international armed conflicts. (Decision on the Defence Motion for Interlocutory Appeal on Jurisdiction, October 2, 1995, available at


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
International Law and the Politics of Urban Air Operations


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 80

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?