The Georgetown University Lepgold Book Prize honors Joseph S. Lepgold, a Georgetown University Government and School of Foreign Service professor who died in a tragic hotel fire in Paris in December 2001. The prize honors exceptional contributions to the study of international relations, with particular emphasis on the resolution of critical policy challenges, published each calendar year. Past winners of the prize can be found here.
The 2016 Lepgold Prize has been awarded to Professor Jessica A. Stanton (University of Minnesota) for her book, Violence and Restraint in Civil War: Civilian Targeting in the Shadow of International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016).
Media coverage of civil wars often focuses on the most gruesome atrocities and the most extreme conflicts, which might lead one to think that all civil wars involve massive violence against civilians. In truth, although some governments and rebel groups commit grave human rights abuses during civil war, many others exercise restraint in their fighting, largely avoiding violence against civilians in compliance with international law. Governments and rebel groups make strategic calculations about whether to target civilians by evaluating how domestic and international audiences are likely to respond to violence. Restraint is also a deliberate strategic choice: governments and rebel groups often avoid targeting civilians and abide by international legal standards to appeal to domestic and international audiences for diplomatic support. This book presents a wide range of evidence of the strategic use of violence and restraint, using original data on violence against civilians in civil wars from 1989 to 2010 as well as in-depth analyses of conflicts in Azerbaijan, El Salvador, Indonesia, Sudan, Turkey, and Uganda.