Skip to main content

Social pressure and the making of wartime civilian protection rules

Citations of this article
Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
Get full text
This PDF is freely available from an open access repository. It may not have been peer-reviewed.


The protection of civilians from the dangers of warfare constitutes an imperative in contemporary global politics. Drawing on original multiarchival research, this article explains the codification of the core civilian protection rules within international humanitarian law in the 1970s. It argues that these crucial international rules resulted from the operation of two central mechanisms: Third World and Socialist-led social pressure and a strategic, face-saving reaction to it, leadership capture, in the politicized context of Cold War and decolonization-era international social competition. I demonstrate the conditional effect of social pressure by a coalition of materially weaker Third World and Socialist states upon powerful reluctant states: the United States, the United Kingdom, and more surprisingly, the Soviet Union. Third World and Socialist social pressure fostered a curious US-USSR backstage collaboration I label leadership capture, decisively shaping the legal compromise embodied in the civilian protection rules of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions. Theoretically, this article furthers burgeoning IR work on the connection between social pressure, status competition, and international rule-making. Empirically it presents a new archives-based history of an intrinsically important case in international law.




Mantilla, G. (2020). Social pressure and the making of wartime civilian protection rules. European Journal of International Relations, 26(2), 443–468.

Register to see more suggestions

Mendeley helps you to discover research relevant for your work.

Already have an account?

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free