Contestation in the Civilian Immunity Norm

  • Betcy Jose
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Political Science book series (BRIEFSPOLITICAL)


Efforts to mitigate the harms of war-fighting have a long history in many societies around the world. A common element in these diverse protective efforts is the idea that those uninvolved in war should be shielded from its ill effects, an idea captured in the civilian immunity norm. One of the norm’s prescriptions, the distinction principle, obligates belligerents to distinguish between permissible and impermissible targets and to refrain from intentionally targeting the latter group with lethal force. Civilians fall within this protected group. However, the civilian immunity norm is not absolute: custom and international law do permit soldiers to kill civilians who threaten them. Yet the norm directs actors to temper its exceptions with its primary goal of protecting the maximum number of civilians from the horrors of war.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Betcy Jose
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of Colorado DenverDenverUSA

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