Massacres and Morality: Mass Killing in an Age of Civilian Immunity
The norm of civilian immunity, which holds that civilians must not be intentionally targeted in war or subjected to mass killing, is widely supported and considered a jus cogens principle of international law. Yet not only does mass killing remain a recurrent feature of world politics, but perpetrators sometimes avoid criticism or punishment. This article argues that the paradox can be explained by understanding that civilian immunity confronts a protracted struggle with competing ideologies, some of which have proven resilient, and that decisions about how to interpret the norm in specific cases are subject to intervening contextual variables.
Human Rights Quarterly