The Rationality of Nonconformity: the United States decision to refuse ratification of Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949

by Childers, Rex A.

Abstract (Summary)
On December 12, 1977, the U.S. signed a treaty offered through the ICRC entitled Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977. This treaty drastically altered the relationship between individual behavior in warfare and combatant status. For the United States, the impact of domestic political tensions, the fresh and painful experience in Vietnam, and a continued emphasis on D├ętente all played parts in the decision to participate in the conference and sign the treaty. Signature during the Carter administration would not be followed by ratification, and would be rejected by subsequent administrations. Was this decision, continued through every administration to date, a simple outcome of a rogue nation exercising its sovereign right based upon its own ability to wage war, or is there more to the story? In this thesis, a new analysis of the political processes and environment surrounding the final treaty's outcomes is offered. The global tensions between superpowers are examined, emphasizing the United States response, in the context of its perceptions of the treaty's requirements. A broader coalition of actors, both state and non-state, would ultimately hold the key to the treaty's significance to conventional warfare. The Global South engaged the issue of lawful behavior in war with a distinct set of outcomes in mind. Their ability to gain agency, build effective coalitions addressing inequities in the asymmetry of warfare that had historically disadvantaged them, and then alter the outcomes of international humanitarian law through democratic practices, are placed in the context of rational choice theory. The logical and methodical approach used by these actors to deconstruct the central premise of conventional warfare distinctions between combatants and noncombatants, consistently the hallmark of advancing improvements in international humanitarian law, resulted in a treaty reversing advancements in civilian protections through a new set of dangerous behaviors made allowable for a new category of privileged combatants (organized resistance movements). The United State's options were limited, and a new and regressive standard for conventional warfare was instituted.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Bowling Green State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:asymmetrical warfare carter civilian combatant noncombatant freedom fighter geneva conventions global north south international humanitarian law of war mercenary national liberation movements prisoner protocol i rational c


Date of Publication:01/01/2008

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