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9 The Rule of Distinction (Persons)

From: The Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions in Context

Annyssa Bellal, Stuart Casey-Maslen

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 11 December 2023

Combatants — Armed conflict — Principle of distinction — Armed attack

This chapter covers the rules governing the targeting of persons under the Additional Protocols during the conduct of hostilities. It highlights the obligation of each armed conflict parties to distinguish military operations between civilians and combatants as the cardinal principal of distinction since attack could only be directed against combatants or civilians directly participating in hostilities. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Court appear to have conflated indiscriminate attacks with attacks directed against civilians. The chapter then explains the loss of protection from attack as a consequence of civilians’ direct participation in hostilities. The provisions in the 1977 Additional Protocol I regarding the protection of civilians and governing the loss of immunity from an attack are reflected in customary international law.

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