House demolition is primarily a military tactic which has been used in many conflicts for a variety of purposes. It has been employed as a scorched earth tactic to deprive the advancing enemy of food and shelter, or to wreck the enemy's economy and infrastructure. It has also been used for purposes of counter-insurgency and ethnic cleansing. Systematic house demolition has been a notable factor in a number of recent or ongoing conflicts including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Darfur conflict in Sudan, the Iraq War, the Vietnam War, the Yugoslav wars and the Caucasian conflicts of the 1990s.The tactic has often been extremely controversial. Its use in warfare is governed by the Fourth Geneva Convention and other instruments of international law, and international war crimes courts have prosecuted the misuse of house demolition on a number of occasions as a violation of the laws of war. Historically, it has also been widely used by a variety of states and peoples as a civil punishment for criminal offences ranging from treason to drunkenness.