Civilizing civil war: writing morality as law at the ICTY

Alexander Zahar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


International law governing international armed conflict has grown since 1945 to include many crimes for which individuals may be held criminally liable. The ICTY and its supporters claim that much of this law has been extended to non-international armed conflict. This chapter argues that the rapid growth of internal-armed-conflict law at the ICTY has been accomplished by an ICTY moral philosophy masquerading as method. The tribunal's judges were well aware that the majority of states were, as late as 1977, opposed to, or had doubts about, such expansionism. Under a veneer of legality, a humanitarian sentiment that had been blocked by states at the diplomatic conferences convened by the ICRC found an opening with the establishment of the ICTY. Can the ICTY's law survive in the long term against the power of sovereign interest? The chapter considers this question in the light of the United States' critique of the ICRC's 2005 customary-law study.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Legacy of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
EditorsBert Swart, Alexander Zahar, Goran Sluiter
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages39
ISBN (Electronic)9780191728822
ISBN (Print)9780199573417, 0199573417
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sep 2011


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