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“Citizens should not be caught in the crossfire, should not be the object…of wars, should not be used as human shields,” declares Medicins du Monde, which along with 2,500 other non-government organizations sponsored a conference on “Protecting People in Times of War” in Paris earlier this month. The organizers want to establish the “right” of civilians “to be protected in times of war.”

Civilians stuck in war-zones from Sierra Leone to Kosovo would eagerly agree with these goals. But political and military leaders who make war tend not to be so fastidious about legalisms. How many Serb war crimes in Kosovo did the Bosnian prosecutions prevent? Apparently none. How many current African wars are made more humane by the prosecutions of Rwandan war criminals? Again, none.

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