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9 Occupation

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

Armed conflict — Occupation

This chapter addresses the present state of the law of occupation, highlighting also the increasing importance of human rights for the protection of civilians in occupied territories. International law on belligerent occupation determines the rights and obligations of a party to an armed conflict which occupies territory of the adverse party. It also codifies the rights and duties of the residents of such occupied territory. The treatment of the population of an occupied territory is measured against standards set by international humanitarian law and human rights law concurrently. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) left no doubt that as a rule, the specific provisions of GC IV and relevant rules of customary law relating to belligerent occupation take precedence over human rights law, as law specifically drawn up for issues arising out of belligerent occupation (lex specialis). In an exceptional case, it may be determined that a human rights rule offers greater protection to the inhabitants of an occupied territory. When assessing the interplay between international humanitarian law and human rights law, this must be done on a right-by-right or case-by-case basis, respecting the special situation of occupation, rather than in a wholesale manner.

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