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A Theory of Asymmetrical Warfare: normative, legal, and conceptual issues (TAW)
Start date: Jan 1, 2014, End date: Dec 31, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The project takes as its point of departure the recent changes in the character of war and aims to develop a systematic theory of asymmetrical warfare which is both morally persuasive and legally feasible. It is organized around three core thematic areas. First, it examines, comparatively, how the law regulates international and non-international armed conflicts, and the participation of mercenaries, private security companies, paramilitary groups, terrorist organizations, and civilians who directly take part in the hostilities. Second, it concentrates on asymmetries in technology, and issues such as “information wars”, the use of drone planes, intelligent bombs, and non-lethal weapons. Finally, it addresses the difficulties raised by asymmetrical tactics such as torture, terrorism, targeted killings and the use of human shields. Ultimately, it will argue all these different issues put pressure on the key regulating principles of the laws of armed conflict and international humanitarian law, namely, the principle of equivalence between lawful and unlawful belligerents), the principle of distinction between combatants and non-combatants, and the requirement to take precautions in attack. The project has two interrelated claims of innovation. On the one hand, it concentrates precisely on the implication of different forms of asymmetries in armed conflicts. That is, it seeks to assess how the laws that regulate armed conflict, which were devised for “traditional” conflicts between states must adjust to contemporary wars. On the other hand, the project will bring together two rather separate areas of research, namely, research conducted by legal scholars on the laws of armed conflict and that conducted by legal and political philosophers on just war theory. The outcome will significantly enrich current debates by suggesting how legal institutions relate to deeper normative and conceptual issues.

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