IRRC No. 878

Regulating the conduct of urban warfare: lessons from contemporary asymmetric armed conflicts

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A survey of contemporary armed conflicts indicates that major military powers are increasingly facing militarily weaker adversaries and being drawn into unconventional engagements in cities, towns, and villages. Given the asymmetry of military capabilities in such conflicts, it is submitted that higher standards of reasonableness be imposed upon military commanders of major military powers to ensure constant care for civilian populations, and furthermore that civilian populations be spared more effectively from the effects of urban warfare by applying customary law ab initio, in order to avoid gaps in protection that may arise from the premature classification of armed conflicts.

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