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International Humanitarian Law Summary

The summary for the Course International Humanitarian Law/Maastricht University 2016. The document provides with all the information that is essential to successfully complete the Course.

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Jus ad bellum refers to the conditions under which States may resort to war or to the use of armed force in
general. Jus in bello regulates the conduct of parties engaged in an armed conflict. IHL is synonymous with jus
in bello; it seeks to minimize suffering in armed conflicts, notably by protecting and assisting all victims of
armed conflict to the greatest extent possible. Equality of belligerents: IHL applies to the belligerent parties
irrespective of the reasons for the conflict or the justness of the causes for which they are fighting. If it
were otherwise, implementing the law would be impossible, since every party would claim to be a victim of
Fundamental principles of IHL
1. Distinction : i)prohibition of indiscriminate attacks 2. military necessity 3. proportionality 4. prohibition on
causing unnecessary suffering and superfluous injury 5. neutrality 6. humanity
Martens clause:
Hague regulations preamble: Until a more complete code of the laws of war has been issued, the High
Contracting Parties deem it expedient to declare that, in cases not included in the Regulations adopted by them,
the inhabitants and the belligerents remain under the protection and the rule of the principles of the law of
nations, as they result from the usages established among civilized peoples, from the laws of humanity, and the
dictates of the public conscience.

NIACs Prosecutor v. Tadic: we find that the armed conflict exists whenever there is a resort to armed force
between states or protracted [read: intense] armed violence between governmental authorities and OAGs, or
between such groups Thus for a NIAC to exist there must first be a protracted armed violence; this means that
the conflict must be of a certain intensity. Second, for a situation to qualify as a NIAC, the armed group must be
organized, meaning that they possess organized armed forces. It must have a degree of internal structure and
organization that enables to plan and carry out sustained military operations and be able to meet at least the
basic requirements of the IHL. Also collective nature of the violence as opposed to random individual
Other criteria for insurgents to meet the threshold of internal armed conflict: they have to be organized, with
control over some territory, and are able to obey the laws of war.
Internationalised AC: 1) if another state intervenes in that conflict through its troops 2) if some of the
participants in internal AC act on behalf of that other state: ICJ effective control; ICTY in Tadic-overall
control. But the ICJ itself noted that there is no logical reason why the test should be the same for the both
issues: one is assessing the international character of the conflict and the other is determining state
Transnational AC: when a NIAC involves the territory of more than one state.
IAC-applicable law: HR1907 + GC I-IV (CA 2)+ AP1 + CIHL
NIAC: Common art 3 GC I-IV + CIHL
Situations that dont amount to an AC in the legal sense are governed by IHRL, general IL and CIL.
Individual status in AC
Primary status (i.e. combatant or civilian) determines:

level of protection afforded by IHL;

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