Lecture 3
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Lecture 3. Scope and Applicability of IHL. Scope of application. PERSONAL scope of application (To which subjects does IHL apply?) MATERIAL scope of application (In which situations do IHL apply?). Personal scope of application :. To which subjects do IHL apply?

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Lecture 3

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Lecture 3

Lecture 3

Scope and Applicability of IHL


Scope of application

Scope of application

  • PERSONAL scope of application (To which subjects does IHL apply?)

  • MATERIAL scope of application (In which situations do IHL apply?)


Personal scope of application

Personal scope of application:

  • To which subjects do IHL apply?

    • States (parties to the conflict and to IHL instruments)

    • Non-state armed groups (parties to the conflict)

    • Individuals (belonging to parties to the conflict):

      • Civilians and other protected persons (soldiers hors de combat) (have rights and obligations)

      • Combatants (have rights and obligations)


Material scope of application

Material scope of application

1) International armed conflict and occupation

2) Non-international armed conflicts:

2.1) Wars of national liberation

2.2) Civil war

2.3) Other non-international armed conflicts

3) Internal disturbances

4) Peace


1 international conflicts and occupation

1. International conflicts and occupation

  • IHL applies in international armed conflict or during occupation

  • What is an international armed conflict?

    • When the armed forces of one state uses armed force against another state

  • What is occupation?

    • When the armed forces of one state occupies territory outside its own territory


Common article 2 gc

Common Article 2, GC

  • In addition to the provisions which shall be implemented in peacetime, the present Convention shall apply to all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties, even if the state of war is not recognized by one of them.The Convention shall also apply to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party, even if the said occupation meets with no armed resistance.


Common art 2 para 3 gc

Common Art.2, para 3, GC

  • Although one of the Powers in conflict may not be a party to the present Convention, the Powers who are parties thereto shall remain bound by it in their mutual relations. They shall furthermore be bound by the Convention in relation to the said Power, if the latter accepts and applies the provisions thereof.


Application of ihl is not dependent on mutual state party recognition

Application of IHL is not dependent on mutual State Party recognition

  • Article 13, GCI : The present Convention shall apply to the wounded and sick belonging to the following categories:…….

    (3) Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a Government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.


2 non international armed conflict

2. Non-international armed conflict

  • IHL applies, to a certain extent, in non-international armed conflicts

    • When there is a situation in a state that amounts to an armed conflict, IHL applies

  • What is a non-international armed conflict?


The martens clause

The Martens Clause

  • Hague Convention IV: “Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land and its annex: Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land”. The Hague, 18 October 1907.

    (Compendium page 293)


The martens clause1

The Martens Clause:

  • “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”.


Non international armed conflicts niac

Non-International Armed Conflicts (NIAC)

2.1 Wars of national liberation etc.

2.2 Civil war

2.3 Other non-international armed conflicts


2 1 wars of national liberation

2.1. Wars of national liberation

  • Additional Protocol 1 to the Geneva Conventions makes IHL applicable to certain non-international armed conflicts:

    Wars against colonial domination, racist regimes etc.


Lecture 3

Article 1, AP I:

2. In cases not covered by this Protocol or by other international agreements, civilians and combatants remain under the protection and authority of the principles of international law derived from established custom, from the principles of humanity and from the dictates of public conscience.3. This Protocol, which supplements the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 for the protection of war victims, shall apply in the situations referred to in Article 2 common to those Conventions.


Article 1 4 ap i

Article 1(4) , AP I

4. The situations referred to in the preceding paragraph include armed conflicts in which peoples are fighting against colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist régimes in the exercise of their right of self-determination, as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.


Lecture 3

  • Art. 96 (3), AP I: The authority representing a people engaged against a High Contracting Party in an armed conflict of the type referred to in Article 1, paragraph 4, may undertake to apply the Conventions and this Protocol in relation to that conflict by means of a unilateral declaration addressed to the depositary. Such declaration shall, upon its receipt by the depositary, have in relation to that conflict the following effects:(a) the Conventions and this Protocol are brought into force for the said authority as a Party to the conflict with immediate effect;(b) the said authority assumes the same rights and obligations as those which have been assumed by a High Contracting Party to the Conventions and this Protocol;


2 2 civil war

2.2. Civil war

  • Civil war is a war between the state authorities of a state and an organized armed group with control over parts of the state territory

  • Civil war is a non-international armed conflict


Article 1 ap ii

Article 1, AP II

  • 1. This Protocol, which develops and supplements Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 without modifying its existing conditions of application, shall apply to all armed conflicts which are not covered by Article 1 of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I)..


Lecture 3

..and which take place in the territory of a High Contracting Party between its armed forces and dissident armed forces or other organized armed groups which, under responsible command, exercise such control over a part of its territory as to enable them to carry out sustained and concerted military operations and to implement this Protocol.


2 3 other non international armed conflicts

2.3. Other non-international armed conflicts

  • Non-international armed conflict which do not reach the threshold of:

    • AP I, Article 1 (4): peoples fighting colonial domination etc.

    • AP II, Article 1: civil war between state military forces and organised armed forces in the territory of the state


Common article 3 gc

Common Article 3, GC:

  • In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:


Common article 3 gc1

Common Article 3, GC

  • (1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed ' hors de combat ' by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.


Common article 3 gc2

Common Article 3, GC

  • To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;(b) taking of hostages;(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.(2) The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.


3 internal disturbances

3. Internal disturbances

  • IHL does not apply:

  • Article 1, AP II:

  • 2. This Protocol shall not apply to situations of internal disturbances and tensions, such as riots, isolated and sporadic acts of violence and other acts of a similar nature, as not being armed conflicts.


4 peace

4. Peace

  • IHL does not apply

  • (with certain exceptions regarding the use of the Red Cross/Red Crescent emblem, placement of military buildings etc.)


Qualification of situations

Qualification of situations

  • Never assume that any substantive IHL rule applies before having made the determination of what kind of situation you are dealing with.

  • If in doubt about how to categorize the situation, always assume that the regime giving the most protection is applicable, (and explain why you do this).


Article 8 of the icc statute

Article 8 of the ICC statute:

  • War crimes: violations of IHL

  • Lists the different situations:

    • Art.8 (2) (a) and (b): IAC

    • Art.8 (2) (c) and (e) (f): NIAC


Qualify the following situations

Qualify the following situations:

  • The invasion of in Iraq 1991

  • The situation in Bosnia 1992-1995

  • The situation in Kosovo spring/summer 1999

  • The situation in Iraq 2003

  • The situation in Iraq 2007


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