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44 Law & Soc. Inquiry 192 (2019)
Condemning Or Condoning the Perpetrators: International Humanitarian Law and Attitudes toward Wartime Violence

handle is hein.journals/lsociq44 and id is 195 raw text is: 



Law  &  Social Inquiry
Volume   44, Issue 1, 192-226, February  2019



Condemning or Condoning the Perpetrators?

     International Humanitarian Law and

     Attitudes Toward Wartime Violence

                                                                Geoffrey P. R. Wallace

         What  are the implications of international law for attitudes toward wartime violence?
    Existing research offers contrasting views on the ability of international legal principles to
    shape individual preferences, especially in difficult situations involving armed conflict.
    Employing  cross-national survey evidence from several conflict and post-conflict countries,
    this article contributes to this debate by evaluating the relationship between individuals'
    knowledge  of the laws of war and attitudes toward wartime conduct. Findings show that
    exposure to international law is associated with a significant reduction in support for war-
    time abuses, though the results are stronger for prisoner treatment than for targeting civil-
    ians. Analysis further reveals that legal principles generate different expectations of conduct
    than alternative value systems that are rooted in strong moral foundations regarding the
    impermissibility of wartime abuses. The findings are relevant for understanding the rela-
    tionship between international law and domestic actors, and how legal principles relate to
    the resort to violence.


I. INTRODUCTION

     Can   international laws regulating wartime conduct   promote  more  humanitarian
views among  populations experiencing recent or ongoing armed conflict? Indeed, a central
belief underlying instruments like the 1949 Geneva Conventions  is that the dissemination
of knowledge about  the laws of war can play a central role in improving compliance during
armed  conflict.' Even if international law may offer salutary effects in some circumstances,
one long-held view  instead suggests that such agreements yield few, if any, benefits when
core security issues are at stake (Mearsheimer 1994-1995;  Valentino, Huth,  and Croco
2006). By contrast, other work points to the ability of international law to alter preferences
and policies on controversial questions even when they involve the use of violence or the
protection of human   rights, though sometimes with  important qualifications (Simmons
2009; Conrad   and Ritter 2013; Y. Lupu  2013; Fariss 2014).

    Geoffrey P. R. Wallace is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the
University of Washington. Email: gprwall@uw.edu. For their helpful comments at various stages, he thanks
Kristine Eck, Robert Keohane, Giovanni Mantilla, Krzysztof Pelc, Beth Simmons, Sophia Jorddin Wallace,
the participants in the 2015 workshop The Laws of War as an International Regime: History, Theory, and
Prospects at the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at Princeton University, and the three
anonymous reviewers. Earlier versions of this article were presented at the 2011 annual meetings of the
International Studies Association and the Midwest Political Science Association, as well as at the 2017
annual meeting of the American Political Science Association. All errors remain the author's own.
     1. For instance, each of the four agreements making up the Geneva Conventions contains a specific
provision requiring contracting parties to disseminate information about the regulations within their
national societies, such as Article 127 of the Third Convention governing prisoners of war.


12 2019 American Bar Foundation.


192

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