The Concept of Proportionality: Old Questions and New Ambiguities

Kateri Carmola

in Just War Theory

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2005 | ISBN: 9780748620746
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748672042 | DOI:
The Concept of Proportionality: Old Questions and New Ambiguities

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Jus in bello has traditionally insisted upon proportionality in the use of force and it is a longstanding criticism of the theory that this stipulation is both difficult to quantify in theory and apply in practice. It has been contended that new forms of warfare have exacerbated these problems to the point at which the utility of the proportionality requirement needs to be questioned. This chapter takes up this challenge, analysing the requirement in both just war theory and international law. Its understanding and operation in the 21st century “wars on terror” in Afghanistan and Iraq are studied in detail. While the contemporary problems in understanding “proportionality” are indeed vexing, what is required is not abandonment of the stipulation but careful and context-sensitive judgments to inform its application in the evolving circumstances of modern, “new” warfare.

Keywords: Proportionality; International law; War on terror; Afghanistan; Iraq war; New warfare

Chapter.  7747 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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