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1 March 2008 The development of the norm against the use of poison
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Abstract

The use of chemical and biological weapons on the battlefield is considered by most commentators — and by international law — as more abhorrent than the use of nearly all other weapons, including ones meant either to kill secretly or to kill terribly, as do fire or burial alive. I ask why this is so. I explore this question through the study of imagery patterns in Western literature and campaigns against food contamination and environmental pollution. I find that the norm against chemical and biological weapons builds upon a taboo against poisons, a prohibition widely accepted in military manuals as distinguishing soldierly conduct from criminal conduct, especially those forms of conduct made criminal by the employment of treachery, invisibility, and transformation.

John Ellis van Courtland Moon "The development of the norm against the use of poison," Politics and the Life Sciences 27(1), 55-77, (1 March 2008). https://doi.org/10.2990/27_1_55
Published: 1 March 2008
JOURNAL ARTICLE
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