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From Bilateralism to Community InterestEssays in Honour of Bruno Simma$
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Ulrich Fastenrath, Rudolf Geiger, Daniel-Erasmus Khan, Andreas Paulus, Sabine von Schorlemer, and Christoph Vedder

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199588817

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199588817.001.0001

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Human, All Too Human Rights: Humanitarian Ethics and the Annihilation of Sodom and Gomorrah

Human, All Too Human Rights: Humanitarian Ethics and the Annihilation of Sodom and Gomorrah

Chapter:
(p.419) Human, All Too Human Rights: Humanitarian Ethics and the Annihilation of Sodom and Gomorrah
Source:
From Bilateralism to Community Interest
Author(s):

Orna Ben-Naftali (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199588817.003.0028

Our ideas of justice, core humanitarian principles, and the foundations of human rights are not merely traceable to Biblical narratives, but also endow them with their enduring quality. Thus, it may well be worth our while to re-read and reflect on them. This chapter offers such reflection. Such thought is particularly warranted at times when the validity of basic humanitarian values is challenged. Over the past few years the notion of ‘asymmetric war’ has been advanced to suggest the anachronism of some of the most fundamental humanitarian principles. The story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, wrought by the archetypal asymmetric use of unconventional force, invites us to reconsider the merits of this suggestion. The basic principles underlying our current jus ad bellum, jus in bello, and jus post bellum regimes are foretold in this story of ‘brimstone and fire . . . out of heaven’. This fire is not a beacon to follow; it is a warning light to beware.

Keywords:   asymmetric war, human rights, Sodom and Gomorrah, humanitarian values

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