Mélange du Mercredi/Identifying the Enemy: Civilian Participation in Armed Conflict

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Identifying the Enemy: Civilian Participation in Armed Conflict by Emily Crawford

This review was written by Ellen Policinski, JD, LLM and Thematic Editor of the
International Review of the Red Cross. Her review was originally published in The International Review: The Evolution of Warfare

Emily Crawford’s 2015 book, Identifying the Enemy: Civilian Participation in Armed Conflict, is an examination of civilian involvement in armed conflict, with a focus on the development of international humanitarian law (IHL) relating to civilians’ direct participation in conflict. It puts the evolution of the law in the broader historical context from the birth of modern IHL to drone targeting and cyber-warfare.

Dr Emily Crawford, of University of Sydney Law School, wrote her doctoral thesis on the disparate treatment of participants in armed conflict. Identifying the Enemy grew out of a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Sydney aimed at exploring the way in which civilian participation in twenty-first-century armed conflict has created challenges for the traditional conceptualization of civilians and belligerents. From the level of technical detail and the historical depth of the volume, it is clear that its intended audience are scholars who are interested in tracing major developments in the distinction between civilians and belligerents under international law, with a view to clarifying what constitutes “direct participation in hostilities” (DPH) by civilians.

Identifying the Enemy is successful in its meticulously researched framing of the modern concept of DPH within its historical evolution, making a valuable contribution to the literature concerning civilian participation in hostilities (direct or otherwise) and examining how civilians taking part in the fight are perceived and identified by armed actors. Crawford’s field of view in this discussion expands on the traditional understanding of civilians who engage in DPH to discuss how the international community has dealt with civilians who participate in hostilities, who she terms “irregular combatants” or “irregulars”. She aims to contextualize the contemporary understanding of which conduct results in a loss of civilians’ legal protection from attack by framing the question in light of legal developments over the course of modern history, reaching back to the 1800s and following the law’s evolution up to today.

To download the full review, click here