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An Example of Jus Cogens: the Status of Prisoners of War

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Chapter Summary

The status of prisoners of war is one of the points of departure for the theoretical question of whether individuals enjoy legal capacity in international law and, at the same time, one of the oldest indications of the existence of international law at all. Against this background and because of its fundamental nature, it prima facie stands to reason that the status of prisoners of war belongs to the basic rules of international law and is considered as jus cogens. This chapter gives a dogmatic analysis of the status of prisoners of war in the framework of the international legal order. In this respect, particular importance is attributed to the problem of whether the freedom of States to modify the status of prisoners of war is restricted. Furthermore, the chapter considers the meaning of the prohibition on renunciation as laid down in Article 7 of the Third Geneva Convention.

Keywords: international legal order; jus cogens; status of prisoners of war; Third Geneva Convention



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