Non-Lethal’ Weapons and the Occupation of Iraq: Technology, Ethics and Law

Christian Enemark

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7 Citations (SciVal)


The occupation of Iraq is a challenging task for the United States (US) military, which is considering resort to options other than lethal force as a possible just response. From the outset, the notion that a weapon can be deemed ‘non-lethal’ is problematic. Some weapons intended to leave their target alive often have lethal consequences and other weapons intended to have lethal effects often do not kill their target. This article explores ethical and legal challenges that arise from the potential use by US forces in Iraq of two classes of so-called ‘non-lethal’ weapons: incapacitating chemical agents and dazzling laser devices. Such challenges are highly relevant to questions about the role of Just War theory in the context of modern warfare. In particular, they beg the question whether the use of non-lethal weapons supports or subverts the jus in bello requirement that war be waged in a discriminate and proportionate fashion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-215
Number of pages16
JournalCambridge Review of International Affairs
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2008


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