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Shipping Terms: Orders ship within 2 business days. Add to Wants. For example, imposing a regime of economic sanctions on a party to an armed conflict, depriving it of financial assets, or providing its adversary with supplies and services such as electricity, fuel, construction material, finances and financial services would have a potentially important, but still indirect, impact on the military capacity or operations of that party.

Other examples of indirect participation include scientific research and design, as well as production and transport of weapons and equipment unless carried out as an integral part of a specific military operation designed to directly cause the required threshold of harm. Likewise, although the recruitment and training of personnel is crucial to the military capacity of a party to the conflict, the causal link with the harm inflicted on the adversary will generally remain indirect.

Only where persons are specifically recruited and trained for the execution of a predetermined hostile act can such activities be regarded as an integral part of that act and, therefore, as direct participation in hostilities. Moreover, for the requirement of direct causation to be met, it is neither necessary nor sufficient that the act be indispensable to the causation of harm.

For example, the financing or production of weapons and the provision of food to the armed forces may be indispensable, but not directly causal, to the subsequent infliction of harm. On the other hand, a person serving as one of several lookouts during an ambush would certainly be taking a direct part in hostilities although his contribution may not be indispensable to the causation of harm. Finally, it is not sufficient that the act and its consequences be connected through an uninterrupted causal chain of events. For example, the assembly and storing of an improvised explosive device IED in a workshop, or the purchase or smuggling of its components, may be connected with the resulting harm through an uninterrupted causal chain of events, but, unlike the planting and detonation of that device, do not cause that harm directly.

The Telegraph

The required standard of direct causation of harm must take into account the collective nature and complexity of contemporary military operations. For example, attacks carried out by unmanned aerial vehicles may simultaneously involve a number of persons, such as computer specialists operating the vehicle through remote control, individuals illuminating the target, aircraft crews collecting data, specialists controlling the firing of missiles, radio operators transmitting orders, and an overall commander. While all of these persons are integral to that operation and directly participate in hostilities, only few of them carry out activities that, in isolation, could be said to directly cause the required threshold of harm.

The standard of direct causation must therefore be interpreted to include conduct that causes harm only in conjunction with other acts. More precisely, where a specific act does not on its own directly cause the required threshold of harm, the requirement of direct causation would still be fulfilled where the act constitutes an integral part of a concrete and coordinated tactical operation that directly causes such harm.

Examples of such acts would include, inter alia, the identification and marking of targets, the analysis and transmission of tactical intelligence to attacking forces, and the instruction and assistance given to troops for the execution of a specific military operation. The requirement of direct causation refers to a degree of causal proximity, which should not be confused with the merely indicative elements of temporal or geographic proximity.


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For example, it has become quite common for parties to armed conflicts to conduct hostilities through delayed i. The causal relationship between the employment of such means and the ensuing harm remains direct regardless of temporal or geographical proximity. Conversely, although the delivery or preparation of food for combatant forces may occur in the same place and at the same time as the fighting, the causal link between such support activities and the causation of the required threshold of harm to the opposing party to a conflict remains indirect.

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Thus, while temporal or geographic proximity to the resulting harm may indicate that a specific act amounts to direct participation in hostilities, these factors would not be sufficient in the absence of direct causation. Driving an ammunition truck: The delivery by a civilian truck driver of ammunition to an active firing position at the front line would almost certainly have to be regarded as an integral part of ongoing combat operations and, therefore, as direct participation in hostilities. Transporting ammunition from a factory to a port for further shipping to a storehouse in a conflict zone, on the other hand, is too remote from the use of that ammunition in specific military operations to cause the ensuing harm directly.

Although the ammunition truck remains a legitimate military objective, the driving of the truck would not amount to direct participation in hostilities and would not deprive a civilian driver of protection against direct attack.

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Therefore, any direct attack against the truck would have to take the probable death of the civilian driver into account in the proportionality assessment. Voluntary human shields: The same logic applies to civilians attempting to shield a military objective by their presence as persons entitled to protection against direct attack voluntary human shields. Where civilians voluntarily and deliberately position themselves to create a physical obstacle to military operations of a party to the conflict, they could directly cause the threshold of harm required for a qualification as direct participation in hostilities.

This scenario may become particularly relevant in ground operations, such as in urban environments, where civilians may attempt to give physical cover to fighting personnel supported by them or to inhibit the movement of opposing infantry troops.

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Conversely, in operations involving more powerful weaponry, such as artillery or air attacks, the presence of voluntary human shields often has no adverse impact on the capacity of the attacker to identify and destroy the shielded military objective. Instead, the presence of civilians around the targeted objective may shift the parameters of the proportionality assessment to the detriment of the attacker, thus increasing the probability that the expected incidental harm would have to be regarded as excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage.

The very fact that voluntary human shields are in practice considered to pose a legal — rather than a physical — obstacle to military operations demonstrates that they are recognized as protected against direct attack or, in other words, that their conduct does not amount to direct participation in hostilities. Indeed, although the presence of voluntary human shields may eventually lead to the cancellation or suspension of an operation by the attacker, the causal relation between their conduct and the resulting harm remains indirect.

Depending on the circumstances, it may also be questionable whether voluntary human shielding reaches the required threshold of harm. The fact that some civilians voluntarily and deliberately abuse their legal entitlement to protection against direct attack in order to shield military objectives does not, without more, entail the loss of their protection and their liability to direct attack independently of the shielded objective. Nevertheless, through their voluntary presence near legitimate military objectives, voluntary human shields are particularly exposed to the dangers of military operations and, therefore, incur an increased risk of suffering incidental death or injury during attacks against those objectives.

The requirement of direct causation is satisfied if either the specific act in question, or a concrete and coordinated military operation of which that act constitutes an integral part, may reasonably be expected to directly — in one causal step — cause harm that reaches the required threshold. However, even acts meeting the requirements of direct causation and reaching the required threshold of harm can only amount to direct participation in hostilities if they additionally satisfy the third requirement, that of belligerent nexus.

In order to meet the requirement of belligerent nexus, an act must be specifically designed to directly cause the required threshold of harm in support of a party to the conflict and to the detriment of another.

Oprah's Experience On Letting Go & Surrendering

Not every act that directly adversely affects the military operations or military capacity of a party to an armed conflict or directly inflicts death, injury, or destruction on persons and objects protected against direct attack necessarily amounts to direct participation in hostilities. As noted, the concept of direct participation in hostilities is restricted to specific acts that are so closely related to the hostilities conducted between parties to an armed conflict that they constitute an integral part of those hostilities.

A Talent for Surrender

In other words, in order to amount to direct participation in hostilities, an act must not only be objectively likely to inflict harm that meets the first two criteria, but it must also be specifically designed to do so in support of a party to an armed conflict and to the detriment of another belligerent nexus. Unless such violence reaches the threshold required to give rise to a separate armed conflict, it remains of a non-belligerent nature and, therefore, must be addressed through law enforcement measures.

Belligerent nexus should be distinguished from concepts such as subjective intent and hostile intent. These relate to the state of mind of the person concerned, whereas belligerent nexus relates to the objective purpose of the act. That purpose is expressed in the design of the act or operation and does not depend on the mindset of every participating individual. As an objective criterion linked to the act alone, belligerent nexus is generally not influenced by factors such as personal distress or preferences, or by the mental ability or willingness of persons to assume responsibility for their conduct.

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Accordingly, even civilians forced to directly participate in hostilities or children below the lawful recruitment age may lose protection against direct attack. Only in exceptional situations could the mental state of civilians call into question the belligerent nexus of their conduct. This scenario could occur, most notably, when civilians are totally unaware of the role they are playing in the conduct of hostilities e. Civilians in such extreme circumstances cannot be regarded as performing an action i.

As a result, these civilians would have to be taken into account in the proportionality assessment during any military operation likely to inflict incidental harm on them. Many activities during armed conflict lack a belligerent nexus even though they cause a considerable level of harm. For example, the exchange of fire between police and hostage takers during an ordinary bank robbery, violent crimes committed for reasons unrelated to the conflict, and the stealing of military equipment for private use, may cause the required threshold of harm, but are not specifically designed to support a party to the conflict by harming another.

Similarly, the military operations of a party to a conflict can be directly and adversely affected when roads leading to a strategically important area are blocked by large groups of refugees or other fleeing civilians. However, the conduct of these civilians is not specifically designed to support one party to the conflict by causing harm to another and, therefore, lacks belligerent nexus.

This analysis would change, of course, if civilians block a road in order to facilitate the withdrawal of insurgent forces by delaying the arrival of governmental armed forces or vice versa. When distinguishing between the activities that do and those that do not amount to direct participation in hostilities, the criterion of belligerent nexus is of particular importance in the following four situations:. Individual self-defence: The causation of harm in individual self-defence or defence of others against violence prohibited under IHL lacks belligerent nexus.

For example, although the use of force by civilians to defend themselves against unlawful attack or looting, rape, and murder by marauding soldiers may cause the required threshold of harm, its purpose clearly is not to support a party to the conflict against another. If individual self-defence against prohibited violence were to entail loss of protection against direct attack, this would have the absurd consequence of legitimizing a previously unlawful attack.

Therefore, the use of necessary and proportionate force in such situations cannot be regarded as direct participation in hostilities. IHL makes a basic distinction between the conduct of hostilities and the exercise of power or authority over persons or territory. For example, the use of armed force by civilian authorities to suppress riots and other forms of civil unrest, prevent looting, or otherwise maintain law and order in a conflict area may cause death, injury, or destruction, but generally it would not constitute part of the hostilities conducted between parties to an armed conflict.

Likewise, once military personnel have been captured and, thus, are hors de combat , the suppression of riots and prevention of escapes or the lawful execution of death sentences is not designed to directly cause military harm to the opposing party to the conflict and, therefore, lacks belligerent nexus.

Excluded from the concept of direct participation in hostilities is not only the lawful exercise of administrative, judicial or disciplinary authority on behalf of a party to the conflict, but even the perpetration of war crimes or other violations of IHL outside the conduct of hostilities. Thus, while collective punishment, hostage-taking, and the ill-treatment and summary execution of persons in physical custody are invariably prohibited by IHL, they are not part of the conduct of hostilities.

Such conduct may constitute a domestic or international crime and permit the lawful use of armed force against the perpetrators as a matter of law enforcement or defence of self or others. Loss of protection against direct attack within the meaning of IHL, however, is not a sanction for criminal behaviour but a consequence of military necessity in the conduct of hostilities. Civil unrest: During armed conflict, political demonstrations, riots, and other forms of civil unrest are often marked by high levels of violence and are sometimes responded to with military force.


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  6. In fact, civil unrest may well result in death, injury and destruction and, ultimately, may even benefit the general war effort of a party to the conflict by undermining the territorial authority and control of another party through political pressure, economic insecurity, destruction and disorder. It is therefore important to distinguish direct participation in hostilities — which is specifically designed to support a party to an armed conflict against another — from violent forms of civil unrest, the primary purpose of which is to express dissatisfaction with the territorial or detaining authorities.

    Inter-civilian violence: Similarly, in order to become part of the conduct of hostilities, use of force by civilians against other civilians, even if widespread, must be specifically designed to support a party to an armed conflict in its military confrontation with another. This would not be the case where civilians merely take advantage of a breakdown of law and order to commit violent crimes. Belligerent nexus is most likely to exist where inter-civilian violence is motivated by the same political disputes or ethnic hatred that underlie the surrounding armed conflict and where it causes harm of a specifically military nature.

    The task of determining the belligerent nexus of an act can pose considerable practical difficulties. For example, in many armed conflicts, gangsters and pirates operate in a grey zone where it is difficult to distinguish hostilities from violent crime unrelated to, or merely facilitated by, the armed conflict. These determinations must be based on the information reasonably available to the person called on to make the determination, but they must always be deduced from objectively verifiable factors.

    In practice, the decisive question should be whether the conduct of a civilian, in conjunction with the circumstances prevailing at the relevant time and place, can reasonably be perceived as an act designed to support one party to the conflict by directly causing the required threshold of harm to another party. In order to meet the requirement of belligerent nexus, an act must be specifically designed to directly cause the required threshold of harm in support of a party to an armed conflict and to the detriment of another.

    As a general rule, harm caused a in individual self-defence or defence of others against violence prohibited under IHL, b in exercising power or authority over persons or territory, c as part of civil unrest against such authority, or d during inter-civilian violence lacks the belligerent nexus required for a qualification as direct participation in hostilities.

    Applied in conjunction, the three requirements of threshold of harm, direct causation and belligerent nexus permit a reliable distinction between activities amounting to direct participation in hostilities and activities which, although occurring in the context of an armed conflict, are not part of the conduct of hostilities and, therefore, do not entail loss of protection against direct attack.

    Even where a specific act amounts to direct participation in hostilities, however, the kind and degree of force used in response must comply with the rules and principles of IHL and other applicable international law. Without any doubt, the concept of direct participation in hostilities includes the immediate execution phase of a specific act meeting the three criteria of threshold of harm, direct causation and belligerent nexus. It may also include measures preparatory to the execution of such an act, as well as the deployment to and return from the location of its execution, where they constitute an integral part of such a specific act or operation.

    Whether a preparatory measure amounts to direct participation in hostilities depends on a multitude of situational factors that cannot be comprehensively described in abstract terms. They are of a specifically military nature and so closely linked to the subsequent execution of a specific hostile act that they already constitute an integral part of that act.

    Conversely, the preparation of a general campaign of unspecified operations would not qualify as direct participation in hostilities. In line with the distinction between direct and indirect participation in hostilities, it could be said that preparatory measures aiming to carry out a specific hostile act qualify as direct participation in hostilities, whereas preparatory measures aiming to establish the general capacity to carry out unspecified hostile acts do not.