Publication Details

This article was originally published as Rose, G, Updating international humanitarian law and the laws of armed conflict for the wars of the 21st Century, Defender, Australian Defence Association, Spring 2007, 21-23.


Aspects of international humanitarian law (IHL) and the international law of armed conflict (LOAC) are out-dated because they are ill-adapted to new battlefields. Some innovation is needed in them to address thc complexities of the networked insurgencies that we see today. War between states has declined in prev alence and importance relative to armed conflicts across societal groups, both within states and acro ss nat ional borders. Private organisation s are likely to dominate armed conflicts for the foreseeable future, including those in the Asia- Pacific and beyond, where Australian expeditiona ry forces are engaged. Often called 'non-state actors' in the intern ational legal parlance, they typically conduct hostilities through irregular but systematic attacks, including bombings , shootings and psychological operations. Are these armed conflicts to which LOAC even applies?