• While the international community traditionally assesses proportionality in war based on a mere numerical counting of casualties from direct violence, the largest loss of life is actually due to indirect costs of war. As Dr. Paul Wise explains, in countries such as Congo DRC, Yemen, Syria, and others, most people die not because of bullets, but because of loss of access to food and health services in the aftermath of conflicts. Most lethal violence now occurs outside conflict zones, making a broader approach essential to understanding violence.
  • A conventional argument today is that emerging technologies such as cyber weapons and drones will make military adventurism and wars more likely as these weapons allow belligerent states to fight wars from distance and without exposing their troops to unnecessary risks. Yet two studies in the project show that these technologies may actually have the opposite effect: they could help to de-escalate crises and empower humanitarian organizations to more effectively rescue vulnerable groups caught in a conflict. 
  • International law is essentially silent on the status of fighters in asymmetric conflicts. The failure of the law of armed conflict to recognize the moral equality of soldiers in the context of asymmetric conflicts is particularly striking given that non-international armed conflicts are much more prevalent than wars between states, and have been increasing as a proportion of wars, since the end of World War II.1 While it may not be surprising that states do not find it in their interests to accord war rights to the nonstate armed groups that take up arms against them, as a matter of just war theory that should not determine what war rights nonstate groups should have.


  • 1 Lotta Themner & Peter Wallensteen, "Armed Conflict, 1946-2010," Journal of Peace Research 48 (2011):525-36.