Military necessity and the principle of proportionality: Examining the function of a military margin of appreciation [PhD] (completed)

Sigrid Redse Johansen's PhD project deals with the proportionality balance that should be struck between military necessity on the one hand and civilian life and property on the other hand.

About the project

The principle of proportionality under the International Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) prohibits attacks which may be expected to cause collateral damage to civilians or civilian objects that are excessive to the overall concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.

The military commander in the field appraises what is excessive. This may in consequence be regarded as a function of the "military margin of appreciation". Nevertheless, this appraisal is subject to general requirements of reason, and may be questioned in a subsequent judicial review.

The concept of reasonableness is determined by the military necessity (the expected military advantage), as well as by the nature of the collateral damage to civilian life and property that should be anticipated at the same time.

The purpose of the thesis is to analyse this process of appraisal regarding proportionality. The thesis will further give the appropriate weight to considerations of military necessity related to any efforts to minimise collateral damage to civilians or civilian objects.

The idea is to examine to what extent the vital interests of States in wartime (as reflected in the need to pursue successfully and to win the war) outweigh any humanitarian considerations to reduce or minimise civilian casualties, injury and damage.



Sigrid Redse Johansen is employed at the The Norwegian Defence University College and attached to the Faculty of Law PhD programme as an external candidate.

Supervisors for the project are Associate Professor Kjetil M. Larsen (NCHR) and Professor Emeritus Yoram Dinstein (Tel Aviv University).

Published Mar. 30, 2012 10:30 AM - Last modified Feb. 12, 2018 11:03 AM