Military Necessity and Humanity in International Humanitarian Law: Preserving the Delicate Balance

  • Michael N. SchmittEmail author


This chapter examines the international humanitarian law (IHL) principles of military necessity and humanity. It argues that the two principles undergird the entire body of IHL. Therefore, each individual IHL rule represents a delicate balance fashioned by States to accommodate both their legitimate need to be able to fight effectively on the battlefield and their desire to avoid unnecessary harm to combatants and the civilian population. However, the principles do not constitute norms which apply in addition to the existing rules, whether customary or conventional in nature. To interpret them in this manner would skew the balance upon which States have agreed.


Supra Note Armed Conflict Geneva Convention Additional Protocol Military Necessity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.




Amnesty International


Convention on Conventional Weapons


Human Rights Watch


International Criminal Court


International Court of Justice


International Committee of the Red Cross


International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia


Improvised explosive device


International humanitarian law


Non-governmental organization


United States of America


United Nations


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Copyright information

© T.M.C. ASSER PRESS, The Hague, The Netherlands, and the authors 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.United States Naval War CollegeNewportUSA

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