As stated in Article 35(1) of 1977 first Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions of 1949:

In any armed conflict, the right of the Parties to the conflict to choose methods or means of warfare is not unlimited.

How to look good in a warJust what methods or means of warfare might be inappropriate — that is, what lies outside the realm of the necessary, just or civil — has been a topic for debate for some time.

In recent decades, a variety of national and international conventions have been agreed that limit the development and use of certain types of weapons — from leg-irons to mines to biochemical agents — largely justified out of concerns regarding their exceptional inhumanity.

Yet setting humanitarian bounds to the conduct of conflict raises many profound questions. Trying to establish clear rationales for what weapons might be more or less relatively acceptable is not straightforward. What makes killing and maiming by one method any worse than another? Why, for instance, should chemical weapons be deemed abhorrent when in certain scenarios high explosives cause much greater harm? Does the focus on some forms of force inappropriately give greater legitimacy to others? Moreover, is not something slightly perverse with trying to establish which means of killing are more acceptable anyway?

Through a variety of research lines, I have sought to address the matter of how limits are set on the use of force, specifically in relation to the permissibility of weapons. In this work I ask what is at stake in attempts to devise and enforce rules and classifications that can serve as the basis for assessments of the inhumanity of acts of violence.

Selected Publications

(For a complete listing of my publications click here)

Out of balance Failure to protect Controlling weapons war Tech and Security A convention beyond the convention