The Oxford guide to international humanitarian law
Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2020
International humanitarian law governs the conduct of participants in an armed conflict. Thus, to determine whether this body of law applies to situations of violence, it is necessary to assess first of all whether the situation amounts to an ´armed conflict´. However, IHL does not recognize a unitary concept of armed conflict but two types of it: international (IACs) and non-international (NIACs). This chapter examines the history of the distinction between these two categories, the consequences of it, and whether it still has validity. It then discusses legal concepts relevant to the two categories, including the differences between a NIAC and other violence, extraterritorial hostilities by one state against a non-state armed group (NSAG), and conflicts in which multinational forces are engaged.