In World War I, only 5 percent of all casualties were civilian; in World War II, that number was 50 percent; and in conflicts in the 1990s, civilians accounted for up to 90 percent of those killed. Clearly, the 1949 Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilians, while recognizing the changing face of war, has not succeeded in reversing the trend.
Focusing particularly on the intrastate conflicts that characterized the late twentieth century, this book seeks to expand the tools available to national and international actors endeavoring to protect civilians in times of war. The authors present a range of perspectives on the evolving norms of international humanitarian law and how humanitarian actors can persuade—or compel— belligerents to respect those norms. Their work is a critical step toward limiting suffering in future battles.
Simon Chesterman, associate at the International Peace Academy, is author of Just War or Just Peace? Humanitarian Intervention and International Law.