Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The air as a battlespace: a manual

I had recently the occasion to follow a very interesting webinar on the newly released Manual on International Law Applicable to Air and Missile Warfare. The proceedings and theoretical discussions - a purely academic exercise - lasted for almost six years, and the outcome, the manual, is not intending to be legally binding, but to offer a source of inspiration for those involved in the issue.

The approach itself is very interesting, as being purely the result of a peer-reviewed work of experts - who are addressing very complicate and problematic practical issues. One of them is, for example, the issue of voluntary human shields and the question how much and when those should be considered direct participants in hostilities. Shortly, the air warfare is implying very practical and direct actions, often took on a case by case basis, not always directly inspired by the academic debate.

A reproach made by some of the participants to the webinar was that the equilibrum of the manual is doubtful, as long as you do not have authors from the "bombed" countries. Nobody asked, the limits of politically corectness respected, what is the stage of the specific theoretical discussion on these issues in these "bombed" countries.

The issue of air security is very actual, but focus mostly of the aspects related to the terrorist threats and the direct impact on the life of civilians. Countering the current vulnerabilities cannot be avoided, independently of the political campaigns rhetorics. Cases in which, the limits between public and private, imposing or limiting the state intervention are very unclear and lacking a theoretical strong and universally available argumentation.

The discussion is open. Despite the relative high frequency of discussions on this issue, the solution is far of being clear. And, in fact, our world is too complicate and complex to be solved through one solution.

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