Dealing with the Principle of Proportionality in Armed Conflict in Retrospect: The Application of the Principle in International Criminal Trials
The principle of proportionality is one of the core principles of international humanitarian law. The principle is not easy to apply on the battlefield, but is even harder to apply retrospectively, in the courtroom. This article discusses the challenges in applying the principle during international criminal trials. It discusses the principle itself, followed by an explanation of the general challenges of dealing with violations of international humanitarian law, and more specifically the rules related to the conduct of hostilities, during war crime trials. The way in which the principle has been used before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is examined, including an in-depth discussion of the recent Gotovina case. The second part consists of an evaluation of Article 8(2)(b)(iv) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and discusses the difficulties the International Criminal Court would face in cases dealing with violations of the principle of proportionality.