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Part I Context, 1 The Distinction between International and Non-International Armed Conflicts

From: Detention in Non-International Armed Conflict

Lawrence Hill-Cawthorne

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 05 February 2023

Armed conflict, international — Armed conflict, non-international — Sovereignty

This chapter examines the history of, as well as the reasons for and against, the distinction drawn in international law between international and non-international armed conflict. It examines the context of the central enquiry of this book, as the differentiated approach to detention in international and non-international armed conflict arises from this general distinction between the two categories of armed conflict. It first demonstrates that the historical basis of the distinction lies in international law’s traditionally inter-state focus, noting that over time the distinction has been partially eliminated. It then examines the two principal lines of critique often made towards the distinction. It then considers the main reasons for preserving what remains of the distinction, including both sovereignty and humanitarian concerns. This will help in the final chapter of the book when considering whether the distinction should continue to exist with regard to detention.

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