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The Definition of Civilians in Non-International Armed Conflicts

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The Perspective of Armed Groups

image of Journal of International Humanitarian Legal Studies

This article analyzes the perceptions of armed groups regarding the concept of civilians in non-international armed conflicts, through their codes of conduct and other commitments. It intends to shed light on the implementation by these non-state actors of the very critical principle of distinction, the exact articulation of is hotly debated in non-international armed conflict. It thus presents the different approaches to the principle of distinction in non-international armed conflict: the specific-act approach, the membership approach, the functional non-privileged combatancy approach, and the direct participation in hostilities with extended temporal scope in light of the commitments and undertakings of various armed groups. It concludes with the findings made on the basis of the study of the commitments made by armed groups, underlying in particular the issues that remain problematic regarding the principle of distinction in non-international armed conflict, as well as the issues on which a consensus in conceivable.

Affiliations: 1: Ph.D candidate in Law, Laval University,


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