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Sir Adam Roberts

Sir Adam Roberts
President of the British Academy
Senior Research Fellow Centre for International Studies
Department of Politics and International Relations
University of Oxford

Biography Biography in PDF

Law of Armed Conflict
The Equal Application of the Laws of War:
A Principle Under Pressure
The ‘equal application’ principle is that in international armed conflicts, the laws of war apply equally to all who are entitled to participate directly in hostilities, irrespective of the justice of their causes. Although the principle faces serious challenges in contemporary armed conflicts and discourses, it has a firm basis in treaties and in historical experience. The rival proposition – that the rights and obligations of combatants under the laws of war should apply in a fundamentally unequal manner, depending on which side is deemed to be the more justified – is unsound in conception, impossible to implement effectively, and dangerous in its effects.

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Law of Armed Conflict
The Equal Application of the Laws of War:
A Principle Under Pressure
A. Legal Instruments
Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field, Geneva, 22 August 1864.

Charter of the United Nations, San Francisco, 26 June 1945.

Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field, Geneva, 12 August 1949, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 75, p. 31.

Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea, Geneva, 12 August 1949, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 75, p. 85.

Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, Geneva, 12 August 1949, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 75, p. 135.

Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Geneva, 12 August 1949, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 75, p. 287.

Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the protection of victims of international armed conflicts (Protocol I), Geneva, 7 December 1978, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 1125, p. 3.

Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons which may be deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to have Indiscriminate Effects (with Protocols I, II and III), Geneva, 10 October 1980, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 1342, p. 137.

Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to paragraph 2 of Security Council resolution 808 (1993) (S/25704), 3 May 1993.

Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel, New York, 9 December 1994, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 2051, p. 363.

Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Rome, 17 July 1998, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 2187, p. 3.

Amendment to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons which may be deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to have Indiscriminate Effects, Geneva, 21 December 2001, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 2260, p. 82.
B. Documents
C. Doctrine
C. Greenwood, “International Humanitarian Law and United Nations Military Operations”, Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law, vol. 1,1998, pp. 3-34.

J. Pejic, “Non-discrimination and Armed Conflict”, International Review of the Red Cross, vol. 83, 2001, pp. 183-194.

T. Pfanner, “Asymmetrical Warfare from the Perspective of Humanitarian Law and Humanitarian Action”, International Review of the Red Cross, vol. 87, 2005, pp. 149-174.

A. Roberts, “The Laws of War in the 1990–91 Gulf Conflict”, International Security, vol. 18, 1993, pp. 134-181.

A. Roberts and R. Guelff (eds.), Documents on the Laws of War, 3rd edition, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2000.

A. Roberts, “The Equal Application of the Laws of War: A Principle under Pressure”, International Review of the Red Cross, Cambridge, vol. 90, 2008, pp. 931-962.

D. Rodin and H. Shue (eds.), Just and Unjust Warriors: The Moral and Legal Status of Soldiers, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2008.

A.P.V. Rogers, “Unequal Combat and the Law of War”, Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law, vol. 7, 2004,pp. 3-34.

J.J. Rousseau, Du Contrat Social, ou Principes du Droit Politique (1762), available as V. Gourevitch (ed. & trans.), Rousseau: The Social Contract and other Later Political Writings, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1997.

M. Sassòli, “Ius ad Bellum and Ius in Bello – The Separation between the Legality of the Use of Force and Humanitarian Rules to be Respected in Warfare: Crucial or Outdated?”, in: M. Schmitt and J. Pejic (eds.), International Law and Armed Conflict: Exploring the Faultlines – Essays in Honour of Yoram Dinstein, Martinus Nijhoff Publishres, Leiden, 2007.

W.G. Sharp, “Protecting the Avatars of International Peace and Security”, Duke Journal of International and Comparative Law, vol. 7, 1996, pp. 93-184.

E. Vattel, Le droit des gens (1758), translated into English as J. Chitty(ed.), The Law of Nations; or, Principles of the Law of Nature, applied to the Conduct and Affairs of Nations and Sovereigns, 1834.

A. Viotti, “In Search of Symbiosis: The Security Council in the Humanitarian Domain”, International Review of the Red Cross, vol. 89, 2007, pp. 131-153.