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Jus in bello

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Reconsidering Reprisals, Michael A. Newton Jan 2010

Reconsidering Reprisals, Michael A. Newton

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

The prohibition on the use of reprisals is widely regarded as one of the most sacrosanct statements of the jus in bello applicable to the conduct of modern hostilities. The textual formulations are stark and subject to no derogations. Supporters of the bright line ban describe it as a vital bulwark against barbarity. In the words of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the prohibition is absolute, despite the fact that the declarations of key states indicate residual ambiguity over the scope of permissible reprisals, particularly in the context of non-international armed conflicts. Reprisals are a recurring feature of …