Civilian Casualties and Nuclear Weapons: The application of the rule of distinction

Susan Breau

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


    This chapter considers the possible use in armed conflict of low-yield (also known as tactical) nuclear weapons. The Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons Advisory Opinion maintained that it is a cardinal principle that a State must never make civilians an object of attack and must consequently never use weapons that are incapable of distinguishing between civilian and military targets. As international humanitarian law applies equally to any use of nuclear weapons, it is argued that there is no use of nuclear weapons that could spare civilian casualties particularly if you view the long-term health and environmental effects of the use of such weaponry.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationNuclear Non-Proliferation in International Law
    PublisherT.M.C. Asser Press
    Number of pages27
    ISBN (Electronic)9789462650206
    ISBN (Print)9789462650190
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    • 'Low-yield' nuclear weapons
    • Attack
    • Civilians
    • Combatants
    • Distinction
    • Tactical nuclear weapons
    • Target


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