Human Shields, Sovereign Power, and the Evisceration of the Civilian

Nicola Perugini, Neve Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human shields were prominent in the 2016 military campaign seeking to recapture Mosul from the hands of ISIS militants. On October 24, 2016, Pope Francis expressed his concern over the use of over two hundred boys and men as human shields in the Iraqi city. In an election rally the following day, Donald Trump decried the enemy's use of “human shields all over the place,” while the New York Times reported that the Islamic State is driving hundreds of civilians into Mosul, using them as human shields. A few days later, the United Nations disseminated a press release, warning that ISIS militants are using “tens of thousands” as human shields, thus casting massive numbers of Iraqi civilians as weapons of war.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329
Number of pages334
JournalAmerican Journal of International Law
VolumeAJIL Unbound
Issue number110
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2017


  • Human shields
  • International law
  • Political violence
  • Contemporary conflicts
  • Sovereignty


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