Interpretive complexity and the international humanitarian law principle of proportionality

Richard Gross, Janina Dill, Daniel Cahen, Yoram Dinstein

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOtherpeer-review


In a panel discussion, several experts talked about the interpretive complexity and the international humanitarian law principle of proportionality. Janina Dill of Oxford University said the principle of proportionality is multidimensional, and so is its indeterminacy. For the legal prescription of proportionality to be action-guiding on its own, people require an intersubjective legal understanding of proportionality, one that abstracts from the legality, morality, or prudential worth of a belligerent's reasons for resort to force and corresponding overall goals in war. Daniel Cahen of the International Committee of the Red Cross said he would like to stress that the introduction of the principle of proportionality marks a fundamental evolution. It has all the hallmarks of the passage from a total war paradigm, which marked the first half of the 20th century with so many tragic consequences for civilians, to a legal order in which there is a legal requirement to mitigate civilian casualties. This is fantastic progress.
Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - 2014


  • Cahen
  • Daniel
  • Case law
  • Civilians
  • Complexity theory
  • Dill
  • Janina
  • Dinstein
  • Yoram
  • Equality
  • Human rights
  • Humanitarian aid
  • Humanitarianism
  • International
  • International law
  • Laws
  • regulations and rules
  • Morality
  • Proportionality (Law)
  • War (International law)


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