When Civilians Are Fair Game in War Noncombatants Pay the Price When the World Ignores or Refuses to Enforce International Humanitarian Law

By Iain Guest. Iain Guest is a senior fellow Refugee Policy Group . | The Christian Science Monitor, April 25, 1996 | Go to article overview

When Civilians Are Fair Game in War Noncombatants Pay the Price When the World Ignores or Refuses to Enforce International Humanitarian Law


Iain Guest. Iain Guest is a senior fellow Refugee Policy Group ., The Christian Science Monitor


ISRAELI shells slam into a United Nations compound in southern Lebanon, decapitating children, wounding UN peacekeepers, and killing scores of civilians who have sought refuge with the UN from Israeli bombardment.

Last week's tragedy is further proof that in today's warfare, there is no refuge for refugees unable to leave their own country. These so-called "internally displaced" are entirely dependent on the willingness and ability of combatants to respect the rules of war - rules that are being slowly shredded by actions like Israel's.

Who, after all, was to blame for the outrage? Certainly not the "smart" Firefinder shells that were supposed to strike Hizbullah guerrillas with surgical accuracy, but instead were dumb enough to find women and children. Nor even the Hizbullah guerrillas - however provocatively close to the UN compound they may have situated their Katyushas. No, last week's tragedy was the inevitable consequence of Israel's current policy, which is to bomb the Lebanese people in the hope that the government (or the Syrians) will clamp down on Hizbullah. Israel has attacked civilian suburbs of Beirut, electric power stations, and even an ambulance. The casualties are said to include a four-day-old baby. History suggests that attacking civilians is not an effective form of diplomacy or warfare, but the truly amazing thing is that Israelis, of all people, think otherwise. Ironically, the attack on the UN compound occurred in the week that the world remembered the Holocaust, the ultimate attack on innocent civilians. And yet it was also Hitler's death camps that persuaded governments to update the Geneva Conventions in 1949, by extending protection to civilians in war. This has been the bedrock of humanitarian law ever since, but 50 years later it is casually ignored. In today's confused wars (which tend to be fought inside national borders rather than between states) civilians have become fair game. In Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Mozambique, children have been forcibly recruited, drugged, and even forced to mutilate their own relatives to make them tougher soldiers. In Bosnia, women and children were preferred sniper targets. Targeting civilians Recently, during a visit to Rwanda, I went to the small church of Ntarama, where as many as 5,000 Tutsi civilians sought refuge during the massacres of 1994. There was to be no escape: Hutu militia closed the doors and tossed grenades into the church. The church has been left as it was found - littered with clothes and human bones. Skulls sit on the altar. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

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.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

When Civilians Are Fair Game in War Noncombatants Pay the Price When the World Ignores or Refuses to Enforce International Humanitarian Law
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

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?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.