The ethics of civilian casualties

Civilians are now the target Civilian fatalities in wartime have climbed from 5 per cent at the turn of the century New weapons and patterns of conflict that include deliberate attacks against civilians are increasingly turning children into primary targets of war. Modern warfare is often less a matter of confrontation between professional armies than one of grinding struggles between military and civilians in the same country, or between hostile groups of armed civilians. More and more wars are essentially low-intensity internal conflicts, and they are lasting longer.

The ethics of civilian casualties

Overview[ edit ] Casualties of a mass panic during a June Japanese bombing of Chongqing. Civilian casualties present particular difficulties.

On the surface, the definition of a civilian, at least in the context of international armed conflicts, is relatively simple: To make effective use of such statistics as there are about civilian casualties of war, it is necessary to be explicit about the criteria for inclusion.

All too often, there is a lack of clarity about which of the following categories of civilian casualties are included in any given set of figures. Those killed as a direct effect of war; 2. Those injured as a direct effect of war; 3. Those dying, whether during or after a war, from indirect effects of war such as disease, malnutrition and lawlessness, and who would not have been expected to die at such rates from such causes in the absence of the war; 4.

Victims of one-sided violence, such as when The ethics of civilian casualties slaughter their own citizens in connection with a war; 6. Those uprooted in a war — that is, refugees and Internally Displaced Persons IDPs ; 7 Those who, even after a war is over, die prematurely from injuries sustained in war.

The inclusion of people in each of these categories may be defensible, but needs to be explicit. Each category presents its own methodological problems.

In the case of those uprooted in war category 6the implication that refugees and IDPs always count as war victims is too simple. Some may be fleeing one-sided violence from a repressive state apparatus, natural calamity, or general social breakdown.

Moreover, in certain episodes, such as the Indo-Pakistani War ofthe Kosovo War ofand the Afghanistan War ofmilitary campaigns have enabled large numbers of refugees to return home. Indeed, in the and wars, refugee return was a stated reason for launching hostilities. Yet this key observation finds remarkably little reflection in the literature about the casualties of contemporary war.

A focus on the numbers of those uprooted in war is especially problematic as those who are trapped in conflict zones may in fact be worse off than those uprooted, but seldom feature in statistics.

Figures for war deaths and for war-related migration should be presented separately, not amalgamated. These Geneva Conventions would come into force, in no small part, because of a general reaction against the practices of the Second World War.

Although the Fourth Geneva Convention attempted to erect some legal defenses for civilians in time of warthe bulk of the Fourth Convention devoted to explicating civilian rights in occupied territoriesand no explicit attention is paid to the problems of bombardment and the hazardous effects in the combat-zone.

An act of war is deemed proportional in Just War theory if the overall destruction expected from the use of force is outweighed by the projected good to be achieved.

The ethics of civilian casualties

However, moral philosophers often contest this approach to war. Such theorists advocate absolutismwhich holds there are various ethical rules that are, as the name implies, absolute. One such rule is that non-combatants cannot be attacked because they are, by definition, not partaking in combat; to attack non-combatants anyway, regardless of the expected outcome, is to deny them agency.

Thus, by the absolutist view, only enemy combatants can be attacked. The philosopher Thomas Nagel advocates this abolutist rule in his essay [9] War and Massacre. Finally, the approach of pacifism is the belief that war of any kind is morally unjust. Pacifists sometimes extend humanitarian concern not just to enemy civilians but also to enemy combatants, especially conscripts.

The Refugee Convention and the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees has also given protection to people who have a well founded fear of persecution.

Civilian casualty ratio The civilian casualty ratio in an armed conflict is the ratio of civilian casualties to combatant casualties or total casualties. The measurement can apply either to casualties inflicted by a particular belligerent or to casualties in the conflict as a whole.

The ratio of ten civilian casualties for every combatant is a frequently-cited, but disputed figure. Collateral damage Collateral damage is defined in terms of armed conflict as unavoidable or accidental killing or injury of non-combatants or unavoidable or accidental destruction of non-combatant property caused by attacks on legitimate military targets.Main Judaism Civilian Casualties: The Ethical Dilemma.

Civilian Casualties: The Ethical Dilemma. Jacob was concerned about collateral damage. He worried that others might be killed in the heat of. Recommended citation: Sahr Conway-Lanz, "The Ethics of Bombing Civilians After World War II: The Persistence of Norms Against Targeting Civilians in the Korean War," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol.

12, Issue 37, No. 1, September 15, The ethics of civilian casualties. Many modern nations' views on the ethics of civilian casualties align with the Just War theory, which advocates a system of proportionality.

The Operation Meetinghouse raid on Tokyo on the night of 9/10 March stands as the deadliest air raid in human history, killing , civilians and destroying 16 square miles (41 km 2) of the city that night, which caused more civilian deaths and damage to urbanized land than any other single air attack, including the atomic bombings of .

The quickest and the most ethical way to end such a war as quickly as possible is by overwhelming and uncompromising force. Uncompromising force inevitably involves the maximum loss of innocent life, and is unethical. Civilian casualties is a military term describing civilian persons killed, injured, or imprisoned by military action.

Civilian casualties can be associated with the outcome of any form of military action regardless of whether civilians were targeted directly or not.

Civilian casualties | Military Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia