Sample Political Science Paper on International Laws of War

International Relations


International relations encompass the relationship between countries on the global platform. These relationships define the roles of sovereign states and other bodies such as Intergovernmental organizations, Multi-National Corporations, and Non-Governmental Organizations among other bodies (Levine 133). Being an intergovernmental and inter-organizational study, International relations also lays much of its focus on the formulation of different laws that affect numerous operations from business operations to operations in times of war (Levine 139). As an individual with much interest in the army, it would be important to evaluate the impact of international law of war on the responsibilities of a sergeant major of the United States army.

According to the Hobbesian state of nature, war is often considered as a model state of anarchy. War according to this perspective is merely a predictable violent breakdown of law that follows from laxity, incompetence, and to some extent the absence of a world government (Levine 79). It is important for the army and its officials to consider the value of resources that are destroyed in times of war since it is their responsibility to protect the state from external intrusion may sometimes require the use of excessive force such as bombs against an enemy state (Solis 56). The international community in an attempt to develop constraints and laws that regulate the practice of warfare has a responsibility of developing some form of the constitution with a mandate of minimizing the variety of externalities. The world society stands as a chief beneficiary of any mechanisms that have been enforced to mitigate and to some extent eliminate the use of violent strategies that have in the recent past dominated quarrels between nations such as Iraq and Afghanistan against the United States (Solis 56).

International Laws of War

The International Laws of War are based on the realization that the absence of a world government, that has the capability by coercing warring states, constitutes a major component in the development of some form of order on the international platform. International Laws of War are those legal precepts that function more from a theoretical perspective to constrain the possibility of misbehavior by actual and potential armed forces (Solis 56). A sergeant in the American Army has the responsibility of understanding the main objective of these laws. This involves developing an understanding that the laws of war have in the recent past evolved to provide perfect strategies for resolving practical problems that have been confronting numerous military conflicts around the world. It also involves an understanding of international laws of war that have been ratified by the United States congress as these define the operations that the said army undertakes in situations where they have to be involved in direct combat with other nation-states (Solis 56).

An understanding of the sources of international laws of war is also central to the sergeant of the American army. This will inform the entire army of the role of American common law, various treatises, and conventional laws that to some extent have been the results of numerous international agreements and conventions. It is important to note that these treaties are often accompanied by penalties for countries that contravene any agreements (Masson-Matthee 78).

The principal aims of the international laws of war are synonymous with those of International Humanitarian Law, which are documented in the Geneva Conventions of 1948. These laws document the rights and duties of combatants, non-combatants, civilians,s and prisoners of war (Masson-Matthee 78). The laws of war are therefore aimed at implementing constraining measures against any actions of belligerence that may cause severe damage to various individuals both targeted and untargeted. The American atomic bomb attack on Japan’s cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a major factor in the formulation of the laws of war since the bombing brought adverse effects on the livelihood of civilians who in most cases were not major participants in the Second World War (Masson-Matthee 70).  The effects of this law ensured that American forces use limited force to achieve their intention without the deliberate cause of any harm against inactive participants of the war in their future operations.

The policy of the law of armed conflict

The policy of International Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) requires every military department to have a program that ensures the observation of the requirements of LOAC. These policies help the military minimizes their violation of LOAC. Such policies will ensure that the armed forces are trained on the legality of the use of weapons (Levine 90). LOAC training is based on a treaty obligation of the United States military as required by the provisions of the Geneva Conventions of 1948 (Solis 120). The United States military department has an obligation of ensuring that the training covers general areas that are required while the special agents within the same department are taken through special training that is considered relevant to the unique issues that they are likely to encounter in their military operations (Solis 121).

Military operations in times of war must be defined by LOAC principles that govern any military operations. These principles include that of military necessity. This principle requires the military to only respond in situations where there are no other means by which the objectives of the military can be attained except through an intervention (Solis 123). The principle of distinction requires that in the process of military interventions there must involve a clear differentiation of the lawful and unlawful targets. Any military attack must be directed toward military objects. The principle of proportionality prohibits the use of force that exceeds the one required for the accomplishment of a military objective (Solis 124)

Constrains of the behavior of nations at war

The purpose of the laws of war is to ensure that order prevails by the institution of self-enforcing rules. Self-enforcing rules affect the operations of the army in the sense that every army officer during their training must understand the purpose and objective of any war. The United States’ invasion of Japan in the Second World War was aimed at restoring order on the international platform (Solis 48). Japan, Germany, and Italy during this time were belligerent and involved in aggression attacks. As an isolated member of the war, the decision by the United States to bomb the two cities of Japan, though contravening the human rights law, brought to an end the Second World War (Schmitt et al, 44). The development of International Laws of War in their self-enforcing nature concerns retaliations and annexations (Solis 49).

Any official in the army has a responsibility of understanding the fact that whenever nation states go to war one of the essential constraint on their behavior during this time is the possibility that the enemy state will revenge for what the state considers as unlawful behavior (Solis 121). The threat of reprisals is essential since it helps in deterring the use of weapons and tactics that are considered as violating International law. Through reprisals, the international laws of war provide legitimate grounds for the application of necessary force by warring states in any case the said state retaliates for any defined violation (Solis 124). The threat of retaliation in this case functions as a possible threat to any form of misbehavior among members of the armed forces (Schmitt et al, 77). The technique by which the threat for reprisal functions is at times referred to as a revenge mission for the atrocities caused by one nation-state against the other. Revenge constitutes a forceful and most proficient strategy, which functions tactically independent of the existing mechanisms (Schmitt et al, 79).

The primary motivation for countries to engage in warfare has always been the probable gains that are associated with the conquest of any enemy state and the appropriation of other forms of wealth in the said country. The military victory of one state has often been defined by the surrender of the other state (Solis 124). In addition, the winning state possesses an economic incentive in ways that minimize the extent to which the efforts of the army produce collateral damage against the enemy state. Annexation by one state over another has two major effects (Corn 29). First, international laws of war allow conquerors to possess the right of preserving the economic value of the annexed territory and its people. This factor minimizes the chances of major effects resulting from collateral damage that is a result of an invasion by a foreign nation. An army does not, therefore, have the right to destroy property and cultural artifacts that are of great relevance to the enemy country.

Restraint often interferes with an army’s efficiency. This is because such restraints that have been documented in the international laws of war that aim at the preservation of annexable enemy property may interfere with the objectives of a state in defeating the said enemy in war (Detter 100). Damage to the civilian economy is said to often minimize the prospect of any conqueror since it encourages collateral damage. The laws of war use informal enforcement mechanisms that come in the form of economic incentives that enhance good behavior play an essential role in the maintenance of international order. These incentives have, on numerous occasions, minimized the destructiveness that is associated with violent conflicts between warring states (Detter101). These changes minimize economic wastefulness. The principal structure of international law is a reflection of the requirement a workable order in the anarchic international platform enhances a process of competitive support. This enables various actors on the international platform to agree on the rules to abide by and in what way (Detter 102). In addition, the requirements of these laws are also influenced by changes in technology, which are in the constant definition of the practice of war. It is a fact that the general practice of war prohibits area bombing with the inventions of airplanes and jets may have sounded irrelevant in the days when planes had not been invented. It is therefore important for all army officers to recognize the role that technological change plays in the development of the international law of war (Detter 99).

Technology and its influence on International laws of War

The role of technological change can be traced back to the 16th century when the widespread use of gunpowder brought with it many casualties in both political and religious wars of that time. Technological advancement has improved the techniques that are incorporated in wars such as the use of drones to launch missiles (Harrison 44). In addition, cyber-attacks have also characterized warfare in contemporary society. International law has a responsibility of developing meaningful constraints that are considered relevant to changes in technology that would render them inefficient if any necessary changes are not implemented (Corn 29).

With respect to the use of cyber weapons, the international laws, together with major actors on the international platform such as states, have a responsibility of accessing the legality of any new weapon. This is essential since it is one way by which these states regulate the activities of the army as this is their obligation as stated in article 36 of additional protocol II of the Geneva Convention of 1977 (Corn 129). This article requires every state that is a party to the Geneva Conventions to ensure that any new weapons that it includes or considers to deploy its warfare operations are in compliance with the rules of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). This is one way by which any acts of aggression against an enemy state are regulated to minimize the possible use of inauthentic weapons that could cause mass destruction of property and loss of human life (Solis 138). As a major player on the international platform, the International Committee of Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (ICRC) during its 28th International Conference in 2003 with the states that are party to the Geneva Convention called for a severe and multidisciplinary examination of the laws of war. This was in regard to the use of new weapons fostered by changes in technology (Corn 89). These reviews were to regulate the means and methods of war to ensure that the laws that are initiated are not overtaken by numerous developments in technology. These regulations included techniques of how to implement the use of cyber operations in times of war (Corn 40). Such changes if found to be alien to the laws of combat may deprive civilians of basic essentials when such technology is used by an enemy state to paralyze the operations of a state then the highest casualties may be civilian pollution. The army and other forces have a responsibility to ensure that they are in constant communication with ICRC to ensure that they are constantly reminded of their responsibility of abiding by the laws of war (Harrison 144).


International relations as a discipline directs its focus on the interactions of different actors on the global platform. One way by which actors such as states interact is through the implementation of the International Laws of War and the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) (Corn 40). These laws arise from the desire of different nations to minimize excessive suffering and destruction of property while at the same time not impeding the benefits of waging inter-state wars. These laws only regulate the conduct of armed forces in times of war while also protecting civilians and non-combatants from the effects of such hostilities. It is a requirement of every military department to train their members on their obligations in times as members of the military (Solis 121).

Works Cited

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Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, 2012. Print.

Detter, I. The Law of War. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2005. Print.

Harrison, D. Cyber Warfare and the Laws of War. New York: Cambridge University

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Levine, D,J. Recovering International Relations: The Promise of Sustainable Critique.

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