Rules of War (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
A body of customs, practices, usages, conventions, protocols, treaties, laws, and other norms that govern the commencement, conduct, and termination of hostilities between belligerent states or parties.
Frequently violated and sometimes ridiculed, the rules of war have evolved over centuries. They distinguish nations whose armed forces respect some minimal standard of human decency from terrorists, marauders, and other outlaws who use illegal and unrestricted methods of warfare to achieve political, economic, or military objectives.
Origins and Development
The modern rules of war trace their origins to the chivalric practices of medieval Europe. Feudal knights were bound by the law of chivalry, a customary code of conduct that could be enforced in local courts throughout western Europe by a military commander of any nation. Premised on notions of justice and fairness, the law of chivalry gave birth to the distinction between soldier and civilian and the idea that women, children, and older persons should be shielded from the bloody fields of combat. The Roman Catholic Church also influenced the development of these rules, differentiating between just and unjust wars and denouncing certain weapons as odious to God.
CODIFICATION of the rules of warfare began in the nineteenth century. In 1862 President ABRAHAM LINCOLN...
(The entire section is 3968 words.)
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