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Beyond ‘Realism’ and Legalism: A Historical Perspective on the Limits of International Humanitarian Law

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 September 2006

DONALD BLOXHAM
Affiliation:
School of History and Classics, University of Edinburgh, William Robertson Building, 50 George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9JY, Scotland, UK. E-mail: Donald.Bloxham@ed.ac.uk

Abstract

There are powerful limits to international humanitarian law. With reference to theories of international relations and to empirically observable patterns, this article shows the inability of legal norms and structures to influence the behaviour of the world's most powerful states and their allies. There are also restrictions on the capacity of trials conducted according to humanitarian law to fulfil the social functions increasingly attributed to them, including the re-education of populations complicit in mass crimes, some measure of catharsis for the victims of such crimes, and the reintegration of erstwhile ‘victim’ and ‘perpetrator’ communities.

Type
Focus: Crimes against Humanitarian Law: International Trials in Perspective
Copyright
Academia Europaea 2006

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