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8 Protection of Civilians

Dieter Fleck

From: The Handbook of International Humanitarian Law (4th Edition)

Edited By: Dieter Fleck

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 03 October 2023

Aliens, treatment — Defences — Armed conflict — Conduct of hostilities

This chapter assesses the provisions of international law concerning the protection of civilians in armed conflict. The rules applicable in international armed conflict are highly developed and extensively codified. Of course, their scope of application is limited to conflicts of an international character, in particular armed clashes between states. Situations of foreign occupation are also international armed conflicts. The four Geneva Conventions, supplemented by their first 1977 Additional Protocol, constitute the heart of protections granted to civilians in international armed conflicts. Meanwhile, the law protecting civilians in non-international armed conflicts has been codified by Article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions and the second 1999 Additional Protocol. Although these provisions are more summary in nature than the law on international armed conflicts, they contain important rules on the protection of civilians in an internal conflict. The chapter then considers the provisions concerning situations in which a party to an armed conflict comes into contact with civilians of the opposing side, especially with aliens on its own territory and with inhabitants of occupied territories.

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