In this article, Professor Schmitt addresses changes in military technology and
the implications of these changes for the humanitarian law of war, with particular
focus on the principle of discrimination. Evolution in the machinery of warfare can
be expected to improve the precision with which objects may be targeted. At the
same time, this evolution may complicate considerations of what constitutes a
legally permissible target. As technologically advanced militaries become
increasingly interdependent with the infrastructure of civilian life, the line
between legal military objectives and protected civilian objects may become
blurred. The international legal questions posed by this change will be particularly
thorny in the case of warfare between technologically advanced military powers
and less developed nations. In the short term, technologically disadvantaged States
might have incentives to support a broad definition of legally permissible targets.
Alternately, they might support a subjective standard, in which the technological
capacity of a belligerent State partially determines its legal obligations. Professor
Schmitt argues, however, that such an expansion of permissible military objectives
would not only disserve the goals of humanitarian law, but ultimately prove
disadvantageous to all States.
Schmitt, Michael N.
"The Principle of Discrimination in 21st Century Warfare,"
Yale Human Rights and Development Journal:
1, Article 3.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yhrdlj/vol2/iss1/3