The Review of International Organizations

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 337–359 | Cite as

A porous humanitarian shield: The laws of war, the red cross, and the killing of civilians

Article

Abstract

An important literature examines the attempts by the international community in inducing or coercing conflict parties in civil wars to refrain from committing atrocities against the civilian population. We examine in this article whether a non-governmental actor, the distinctively neutral and independent International Committee of the Red Cross, whose mission includes the promotion of humanitarian law and the protection of the civilian population, has such a restraining effect on the conflict parties. Our results suggest that the more time has passed since the ratification of the relevant Geneva Conventions and Protocols, the larger is the risk of civilian victimization. We cannot find evidence that the ICRC’s presence in conflict zones and the seminars it conducts to spread humanitarian law make a crucial difference. Case studies of Bosnia and Darfur indicate that shaming strategies and thus a relatively unusual instrument for the traditionally neutral actor did not abate the killings; the statistical evidence in the form of Granger causality tests rather show that the killing and harming precedes the naming and shaming.

Keywords

Civil war Laws of war Geneva conventions International Committee of the Red Cross One-sided violence Compliance 
JEL D74 K33 K42 F52 

Supplementary material

11558_2015_9233_MOESM1_ESM.zip (203 kb)
ESM 1(ZIP 203 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political Science and CommunicationsUniversity of GreifswaldGreifswaldGermany
  2. 2.Department of Politics and Public Administration and Graduate School of Decision SciencesUniversity of KonstanzConstanceGermany

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