Application of IHRL to International and Non-international Armed Conflict


International Humanitarian Law (IHL) is a set of rules that governs the conduct of armed conflict, both international and non-international, and aims to protect individuals who are not or no longer participating in hostilities and to limit the means and methods of warfare. While International Human Rights Law (IHRL) primarily applies during peacetime, there are certain ways in which IHRL can intersect with armed conflicts. 1. International Armed Conflict: In the context of international armed conflict, IHRL continues to apply alongside IHL. States involved in armed conflicts must adhere to their obligations under both IHL and IHRL. IHRL can provide additional protections to individuals in areas under the control of an occupying power or during military occupation. For example, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) guarantees certain fundamental rights, such as the right to life, liberty, and a fair trial, which must be respected even during armed conflicts. 2. Non-International Armed Conflict: In non-international armed conflicts, which take place within the boundaries of a single state, the application of IHRL is more complex. While IHL specifically addresses non-international armed conflicts through rules such as Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol II, IHRL continues to apply to the extent that it is not inconsistent with the specific provisions of IHL applicable to non-international armed conflicts. IHRL may provide additional safeguards for individuals affected by such conflicts. 3. Protection of Fundamental Rights: IHRL principles are relevant to armed conflicts as they ensure the protection of fundamental rights and dignity of individuals, regardless of the context. For instance, the prohibition of torture, cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, and the right to non-discrimination continue to apply in armed conflict situations. States are expected to respect and protect these rights, even when engaging in hostilities. 4. Extraterritorial Application: IHRL also has an extraterritorial application, meaning that states must respect their human rights obligations outside their own territories. This principle ensures that states remain accountable for their actions during armed conflicts abroad, such as when conducting military operations or detaining individuals in foreign territories. While IHL is the primary legal framework governing armed conflicts, IHRL complements it by providing additional human rights protections to individuals affected by such conflicts. The interaction between these two bodies of law ensures that the rights and dignity of individuals are upheld even in times of conflict.

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