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Security and Law Webinar: Human Shields - A History of People in the Line of Fire
Human shields are increasingly used in modern conflicts, exposing civilians and other protected persons to high risk of death and injuries. Using human shields is a violation of international humanitarian law and a war crime under the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and customary international law.
What, exactly, are human shields, and what types of shields do we encounter within war zones? How should a warring party react when confronted by enemy combatants who hide behind civilians? Does volunteering to become a human shield to stop state violence constitute a humane or inhumane act? Does international law prevent or facilitate the use of lethal violence against vulnerable people?
In their recently published book ‘Human Shields: A History of People in the Line of Fire’ (University of California Press, August 2020), Neve Gordon and Nicola Perugini describe the use of human shields in key historical and contemporary moments across the globe. Recounting incidents of human shielding over a span of 150 years while looking at how the laws of armed conflict have dealt with the phenomenon, the authors explain when, why, and how certain manifestations of violence come to be conceived as humane while others are perceived as immoral. This is timely and most relevant for current work on how to address the rising challenge of human shields.
Join our Webinar to meet the authors and discuss their key findings and reflections.