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School of Law

On Human Shields

Professor Neve Gordon writes for London Review Books on the term 'human sheild' and recalls seeing a small plaque near the synagogue’s entrance in the 1990s in London.

A girl in Iraq

Image by Abdulmomn Kadhim from Pixabay

"In recent years the ‘human shield’ accusation has been adopted by several state militaries trying to justify the killing of civilians in Mosul in Iraq, Raqqa in Syria and elsewhere. This justification, however, functions only in one direction. When state actors kill civilians, it’s become standard to describe them as human shields. But when non-state actors attack military targets in urban settings, the civilians they kill are still recognised as civilians."

Read the full story on London Review of Books.

Neve Gordon is Professor of International Law and Human Rights at Queen Mary University of London and co-author of the book Human Shields: A History of People in the Line of Fire.



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