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Development of Customary Law of Armed Conflict

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Chapter Summary

In interstate war, a situation of conflict usually characterized by massive recourse to arms, the law of armed conflict is said to be the applicable rules states recognise as law, and rules that appear to stem from practice are asserted to belong to the body of customary law of war. Today, many armed conflicts are waged within the territory of a single state, and by definition at least one of the parties to such an internal armed conflict has no regular armed forces. As with interstate wars, not all internal conflicts are identical. While the left-wing guerrilla forces may express respect for the civilian population as a group, they actually respect only those individuals whom they consider as not connected in any way with the war: the paradigmatic ?innocent civilian?. The right-wing paramilitary forces have massacred large numbers of innocent people, including women, children and the elderly.

Keywords: armed conflict; civilian population; customary law; left-wing guerrilla forces; right-wing paramilitary forces



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