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  • Publication
    International law applicable to urban conflict and disaster
    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to provide a comprehensive overview of the international legal framework governing urban crises arising from conflict, “natural” and technological disasters. Design/methodology/approach: The paper deploys legal analysis to the most relevant bodies of international law pertaining to urban crises and systematically outlines the key legal issues arising. Findings: International humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL) provide important protections to vulnerable persons in both human-made and “natural” disaster settings. While the two bodies of law do not draw explicit distinctions between urban and rural settings, their various provisions, and indeed their silence on, crucial issues that would enhance legal protection in urban settings merit greater attention. Research limitations/implications: The paper provides an overview of the sources of international law of most relevance to urban crises. Further research is required into how the urban environment influences their application concretely in urban settings. Practical implications: In an era when international law is being challenged from many sources and attention is turning to the increasing potential for urban violence and vulnerability, this paper serves to sensitise the disaster management and humanitarian community to the relevance of international legal frameworks to its activities in urban settings. Originality/value: This paper considers the most salient international legal issues arising during crises and compares and contrasts how the different bodies of international law (IHL and IHRL) address each of the kinds of crises (conflict, “natural” or technological disaster), respectively.