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Lawful Human Targets

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Chapter Summary

This chapter deals with the law that applies to targeting people. It reviews the negotiating history of API, various commentaries and examples from actual conflicts with a view to determining whether hors de combat includes when a combatant is merely outnumbered, overwhelmed or otherwise defenceless. The chapter discusses when it is lawful to attack civilians. According to article 51(3) API, it is lawful to attack a civilian for such time as that civilian is taking a direct part in hostilities. The chapter describes that taking a direct part in hostilities is more limited than contribution to the general war effort; as a result, civilians who work in munitions factory and senior civilian politicians are not ipso facto targetable. As it is lawful to attack a civilian only for such time as that civilian is taking a direct part in hostilities, there is an issue known as the revolving door.

Keywords: civilian population; lawful target; target Combatant

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