Mélange du Mercredi/The Evolution of Warfare

Welcome to Mélange du Mercredi (Wednesday Mix). Each week, we highlight one of the latest and greatest in reading, film and other scholarly resources, focusing on a variety of issues pertaining to international humanitarian law. This week, we're looking at the latest edition of the International Review of the Red Cross, The Evolution of Warfare.  We've featured the book reviews contained in this edition in earlier Mélange du Mercredis, but the overall Review itself deserves some attention in light of current discussions. 

The Evolution of Warfare, edited by Vincent Bernard

A hundred years after the First World War, the International Review of the Red Cross asked historians, legal scholars, experts and humanitarian practitioners to look back at the wars of the past century using a humanitarian lens. The result is this issue of the Review. This edition aims to illustrate the changing face of warfare by placing the resulting human suffering front and center. Focusing on WWI and the period immediately leading up to it as a turning point in the history of armed conflict, this edition draws important parallels between the past and the changes we are witnessing today.

Some featured articles:

How warfare has evolved – a humanitarian organization’s perception: the case of the ICRC, 1863–1960 by ICRC Historical Research Officer Daniel Palmieri

To understand how war is perceived and how it has evolved over time, we must first choose the right agent to study: one that is at once involved in the bellicosity, and yet keeps its distance. Such an agent will be better placed to maintain an objective and rational view of developments. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) would seem to fit the bill. 

Technological change and the evolution of the law of war by Rain Liivoja of Melbourne Law School

Advances in military technology have led many, including the developers of such technology, to propose new regulation. International lawyers have extensively examined the adequacy of the existing law to address emerging technology, but they have devoted relatively little attention in these analyses to the prior development of the law as a result of, or despite, technological change. 

The state of conflicts today: can humanitarian action adapt? by ICRC Special Advisor Claudia McGoldrick

How do the dynamics of contemporary armed conflict shape, and constrain, humanitarian action? Is the international humanitarian “system” really at breaking point, as is often claimed? Or will it adapt to the changing realities not just of warfare but of global geopolitical shifts – as it has done repeatedly in the past – and evolve into something different? 


You can read the full articles from The Evolution of Warfare online or download the full edition here. ICRC's Humanitarian Law & Policy Blog also has a well-written post examining the issues further. 

As always, if you have suggestions, or would like to submit a post on something you feel our readers will also enjoy, we're happy to include them. Just email Editor Niki Clark