Displacement as Significant Collateral Harm in War
Keywords:refugees, displacement, just war theory, laws of war, proportionality in war
Traditionally, in deciding whether some strategy or action in war is proportionate and necessary and thus permissible both international law and just war theory focus exclusively on civilian deaths and the destruction of civilian infrastructure. I argue in this paper that any argument that can explain why we should care about collateral killing and damage to infrastructure can also explain why collateral displacement matters. I argue that displacement is a foreseeable near-proximate cause of lethal harm to civilians and is relevant for proportionality and necessity calculi. Accepting my argument has significant consequences for what we are permitted to do in war and for what obligations we have towards refugees that result from our actions in war.