ROUTLEDGE HANDBOOK OF THE LAW OF ARMED CONFLICT, R. Liivoja, T. McCormack, eds, Routledge, UK, 2016
18 Pages Posted: 29 May 2016
Date Written: May 27, 2016
It is one of the fundamental and intransgressible principles of international humanitarian law (IHL) that participants in an armed conflict observe the principle of distinction. Parties to the conflict must ‘at all times distinguish between civilians and combatants. Attacks may only be directed against combatants'. Inherent in this principle is the need to define who is considered a combatant – one who is lawfully permitted to take active and direct part in the hostilities. This chapter examines the origins and evolution of combatant status, discusses the current rules regarding who may be considered a combatant under international law and what consequences follow when combatant status is denied. This chapter will also explore whether international law is evolving to include new categories of persons entitled to combatant status.
Keywords: International armed conflict, non-international armed conflict, combatants, prisoners of war, direct participation in hostilities, unlawful combatants, principle of distinction
JEL Classification: K10, K30, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation