Rudolf Dolzer

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Humanitarian law rests on fragile foundations. It is true that its purpose, to protect basic human values in times of immediate threat to physical integrity and to life, will in principle find support in every culture. But it depends on so many circumstances and assumptions that its acceptance appears to be an expression of civilization that today can no longer be taken for granted. Humanitarian law calls for the rule of law in the context of violence, hate, and anarchy. Its rules are applicable without regard to reciprocity, even though the expectation of reciprocity is in practice one of the main motivations for accepting rules. The driving force behind military operations is end-oriented efficiency, not the pursuit of humanitarian considerations. The deeper and more fundamental a dispute between enemies grows, the less the inhibitions to disregard humanitarian law; religious beliefs and assertions of the principle of military necessity may attest to this dilemma.

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