This article examines the relationship between third-party actors and the intentional targeting of non-combatants in interstate war. It argues that war participants kill fewer civilians in war when their expectation of third-party punishment is high. Combatants will anticipate a high likelihood of third-party sanctions when their alliance and trade networks are dominated by third parties that have ratified international treaties prohibiting the intentional targeting of non-combatants. The study hypothesizes that war combatants kill fewer civilians in war as the strength of ratifiers within their alliance and trade networks increases. Quantitative tests on a dataset of all interstate wars from 1900-2003 provide strong statistical and substantive support for this hypothesis.
- civilian targeting
- international humanitarian law
- interstate war
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science