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Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law [MPEPIL]

Asymmetric Warfare

Wolff Heintschel von Heinegg

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2015. All Rights Reserved.date: 06 December 2019

Subject(s):
Responsibility of non-state actors — Armed forces — Reprisals — Armed attack — Weapons — Military objectives — Armed conflict — Belligerence — Occupation — Geneva Conventions 1949 — Protected persons and property — Combatants

Published under the auspices of the Max Planck Foundation for International Peace and the Rule of Law under the direction of Rüdiger Wolfrum.

1 Asymmetries in warfare include asymmetry of power, means, methods, organization, values, and time ( Pfanner 151 ). Asymmetry can be participatory, technological, normative, doctrinal, or moral ( Schmitt 16 ). In that sense, wars have always been characterized by at least one form of asymmetry. For instance, any armed conflict involving the United States will by definition be asymmetric because of the technological superiority of the United States armed forces . The same holds true for any armed conflict involving non-State actors —be they partisans, resistance...
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