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Complex BattlespacesThe Law of Armed Conflict and the Dynamics of Modern Warfare$
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Winston S. Williams and Christopher M. Ford

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190915360

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190915360.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 09 December 2021



The Lynchpin of Military Success in Complex Battlespaces

(p.223) 8 Legitimacy
Complex Battlespaces

Thomas E. Ayres

Jeffrey S. Thurnher

Oxford University Press

Legitimacy is a critical factor in operations. States strive to maintain legitimacy of their operations for a variety of reasons. The essence of legitimacy on the battlefield is conducting operations in a manner that enables the fighting force to gain and maintain moral and legal authority. Whenever fighting takes place on a cluttered or complex battlespace, legitimacy is brought to the forefront as the potential for civilian harm is often increased. The desire for legitimacy is perhaps the main reason States voluntarily cede sovereignty to comply with international law. Adherence to the law of armed conflict is a necessary and key component of legitimacy. States, as the primary developers and adherents of international law, created the current law of armed conflict construct and are responsible for ensuring its continued viability. States understand that legitimacy and compliance with the law help shape ultimate victory in complex battlespaces. States further recognize that the law of armed conflict only functions properly when there is a delicate balance between the fundamental principles of humanity and military necessity. In recent years, however, States have been subject to attempts from external entities to tilt this balance in favor of humanitarian considerations and to reshape what are considered legitimate actions on complex battlefields. Simultaneously, States have confronted non-State actors that intentionally seek to flout international law and use it to undermine States’ abilities to respond. This chapter examines the importance of legitimacy to States and the reasons States seek to garner it through their military operations.

Keywords:   international law, legitimacy, law of armed conflict, human shields, investigations, rules of engagement, lex specialis, human rights, ISIS, non-State actor

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