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Strengthening the Principle of Distinction?

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A Critical Appraisal of the ICRC’s Continuous Combat Function

image of Journal of International Humanitarian Legal Studies

The primary impetus for the Interpretive Guidance on the Notion of Direct Participation in Hostilities by the International Committee of the Red Cross was the need for an accepted understanding of the notion of ‘direct participation in hostilities’. The Interpretive Guidance recommends that in non-international armed conflicts organised armed groups consist only of persons whose continuous function for the groups involves taking direct part in hostilities. The objective of this article is to assess to what extent the ‘continuous combat function’ category strengthens the protection of civilians under the principle of distinction.

Affiliations: 1: Research associate, Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict, Ruhr University Bochum


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