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A back and white photograph of a number of people seated at a conference table.

Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflicts. Geneva June, 1977 © ICRC/KURZ Jean-Jacques. V-P-CER-N-00017-01.

Our featured article by Jessica Whyte considers the debate over the concept of “just war.”

The "Dangerous Concept of the Just War'': Decolonization, Wars of National Liberation, and the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions

Abstract: In 2002, the North American political theorist Michael Walzer announced the “triumph of just war theory,” which he saw as evidence of moral progress. This paper challenges Walzer’s progressive narrative by turning to the often-acrimonious debates about just and unjust wars during the drafting of the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions. I show that during the International Committee of the Red Cross’s “Diplomatic Conference on the Laws of War” (1974-77) it was the Third World and Soviet states that used the language of Read More »


Statement from the New Editorial Collective, 2019

The journal Humanity was founded in 2010 to examine the politics of “humanity” found in the convergence of human rights, humanitarianism and development. This was a period when a critique of human rights and the entanglements of humanitarianisms with empire was also gaining momentum. The current editorial collective affirms Humanity’s founding mission while attuning to new challenges. A complex dynamic of old problems and emerging obstacles has occasioned a chastened turn to human rights and humanitarianism: a renewed call to humanity has gained traction in Read More »

Dead bodies (do not) matter

Edinburgh, October 2018 From migrants facing death at borders around the world, to the different chapters of the “War on Terror,” to the politics of post-genocide, our era seems to be marked by the constant politicisation of death. Social and physical death are increasingly intertwined in various spectacles of horror. Clearly, not all deaths are treated equally. Trenchant questions remain over what kinds of death are deemed morally, political and legally significant; and what kinds of death are rendered visible or invisible, and with what Read More »

The global war on migration, human shields, and the erosion of the civilian

This post is part of a series on politics in the face of death. For an introduction and links to the other posts, please see here. From the Mediterranean Sea to the US-Mexico border and all the way to the Australian coast line, for some years now states have been deploying military forces to arrest migration and refugee flows. In several countries, the humanitarian approach used to manage the influx of migrants has been increasingly combined with a military one, with some governments waging a Read More »

Politics, Deathwork, and the Rights of the Dead

This post is part of a series on politics in the face of death. For an introduction and links to the other posts, please see here. I want to address, here, the dead body itself. Not just any dead body, but the mass dead victims of politically animated atrocity, some of which, sometimes, become the subject of large-scale justice processes, such as those in Argentina, Rwanda and Bosnia. These dead are not only the objects of humanitarian concern and legal action, but also the site Read More »

Spectres of Death: Exhuming the Human Remains of the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda

This post is part of a series on politics in the face of death. For an introduction and links to the other posts, please see here. In the mid-1990s an extremist political faction within the Hutu-dominated Rwandan government successfully mobilised a large militia and many ordinary citizens in the organised extermination of Rwandans identified as ethnic Tutsi, as well as Hutu who resisted the regime’s genocidal intention. Few escaped, with Rwandans of both determined and ambiguous ethnic identity and political affiliation drawn into the conflict. Read More »

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