Classification of Armed Conflicts: Relevant Legal Concepts
In E Wilmshurst (ed), International Law and the Classification of Conflicts (OUP 2012) chapter 3
68 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2012 Last revised: 24 Aug 2012
Date Written: August 20, 2012
This chapter provides an overview of how and why international law classifies situations of violence for the purpose of application of international humanitarian law. The chapter examines the distinction between international and non-international armed conflicts as well as the distinction between armed conflicts and situations of violence that do not qualify as armed conflicts. The chapter examines the history of the distinction between the two categories of armed conflict, the consequences of the distinction and whether the distinction still has validity. The chapter discusses the meaning of the concepts of ‘international armed conflict’ and ‘non-international armed conflict’, including the legal standards by which such qualifications are to be made. Particular attention is paid to foreign intervention in non-international armed conflicts, extraterritorial hostilities by one State against a non-state armed group and conflicts in which multinational forces are engaged. The chapter provides an overview of those legal concepts that are relevant to an undertanding of the case studies discussed in the other chapters of the book.
Keywords: international humanitarian law, international armed conflict, non-international armed conflict, classification of conflicts, transnational conflicts, extraterritorial conflicts, war, occupation, peacekeeping
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