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date: 12 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Contemporary asymmetric war presents democratic regime with significant challenges. First, the status of non-state actors is ambiguous. Terrorists are not entitled to the protection of international law, but guerrillas should enjoy significant privileges that states do not always acknowledge. Second, lack of uniforms endangers the core obligation to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants. Third, active participation by civilians puts non-combatant immunity at risk if such civilians are liable to defensive harming. Fourth, the increasing use of soft or non-kinetic tactics in the form of media, cyber, legal, and economic warfare is not governed by international law, and may offer non-state actors a significant advantage. Finally, the laws and norms that bind guerrillas are a work in progress. Ideally, they should comply fully with the principles of military ethics, but in practice, some leniency is unavoidable.

Keywords: just war theory, guerrilla warfare, asymmetric war, insurgency, civilian immunity, combatant rights, human shields, national liberation, cyber war, non-lethal weapons

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