Cover Image
close this bookLaw in Humanitarian Crises Volume I : How Can International Humanitarian Law Be Made Effective in Armed Conflicts? (European Commission Humanitarian Office)
close this folderThe Laws of War: Problems of Implementation in Contemporary Conflicts
close this folderV. Summary and Conclusions
View the document(introduction...)
View the document1. Realist and Idealist Images of the Laws of War
View the document2. Still a World of States
View the document3. Humanitarianism as a Substitute for Policy
View the document4. Application to Non-International Conflicts
View the document5. Mines
View the document6. Limits of Compliance Provisions
View the document7. Trials
View the document8. International Criminal Court
View the document9. Reparations
View the document10. The United Nations
View the document11. Barbarians?
View the document12. A Set of Professional Military Standards?
View the document13. Need to Keep Our Own Houses in Order
View the document14. The Relation between Ius in Bello and Ius ad Bellum
View the document15. Taking Implementation Seriously

3. Humanitarianism as a Substitute for Policy

When states and international organizations not directly involved in a particular conflict are moved to demand better application of humanitarian rules in that conflict, they need to be very careful about the manner in which they do so. In particular, if they do not at the same time show some understanding of the positions and aspirations of the belligerents, and fairness in relating principles to complex situations, their efforts may backfire. In respect of the former Yugoslavia, for example, there have been several statements by leading Europeans demonstrating a remarkable lack of comprehension of the depth and seriousness of the conflict. There has been a lack both of serious analyses of the problem and of convincing policies on it. In these circumstances, the emphasis on humanitarian issues can easily seem, or even be, a substitute for policy.