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What’s the definition of ‘civilian’ under International Humanitarian Law?

22 March 2011

What’s the definition of ‘civilian’ under International Humanitarian Law?

When does a ‘civilian’ become a ‘rebel’?

What’s the difference?

‘Rebels’ who are armed, organised in a form of ‘command structure’, ‘responsible for the conduct of its subordinates’ ,  and fighting against the Gaddaffi regime, are arguably NOT civilians.

FYI – following is the precise definition under International Humanitarian Law of ‘civilian’ and ‘civilian population’:

Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977.
Part IV : Civilian population #Section I — General protection against effects of hostilities #Chapter II —

Civilians and civilian population

Article 50Database 'IHL - Treaties & Comments', View 'COMART' — Definition of civilians and civilian population

    1. A civilian is any person who does not belong to one of the categories of persons referred to in Article 4 A (1), (2), (3) and (6)Database 'IHL - Treaties & Comments', View '1.Traités \1.2. Par Article' of the Third Convention and in Article 43Database 'IHL - Treaties & Comments', View '1.Traités \1.2. Par Article' of this Protocol. In case of doubt whether a person is a civilian, that person shall be considered to be a civilian.

    2. The civilian population comprises all persons who are civilians.

    3. The presence within the civilian population of individuals who do not come within the definition of civilians does not deprive the population of its civilian character.

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Art 43. Armed forces

1. The armed forces of a Party to a conflict consist of all organized armed forces, groups and units which are under a command responsible to that Party for the conduct of its subordinates, even if that Party is represented by a government or an authority not recognized by an adverse Party. Such armed forces shall be subject to an internal disciplinary system which, inter alia, shall enforce compliance with the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict.

2. Members of the armed forces of a Party to a conflict (other than medical personnel and chaplains covered by Article 33 of the Third Convention) are combatants, that is to say, they have the right to participate directly in hostilities.

3. Whenever a Party to a conflict incorporates a paramilitary or armed law enforcement agency into its armed forces it shall so notify the other Parties to the conflict.

_______________________________

Article 4 A (1), (2), (3) and (6)Database 'IHL - Treaties & Comments', View '1.Traités \1.2. Par Article' of the Third Convention

Art 4. A. Prisoners of war
, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:

(1) Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict, as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.

(2) Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:[
(a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
(b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
(c) that of carrying arms openly;
(d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

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

(6) Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.

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March 22, 2011 - Posted by | Human rights, Internationally significant information

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