Regional human rights courts and internal armed conflicts
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Intercultural human rights law review, Vol. 2, 2007, p. 249-328
This article explores the role of regional human rights courts in internal armed conflicts and asks the question: How have regional human rights courts contributed to the development of, and interplay between, international humanitarian and international human rights law in internal armed conflicts? First it sets forth a brief discussion of the laws of war ("LOW") as they pertain to internal armed conflict. This discussion will establish the framework for a discussion of the interplay between International Humanitarian Law ("IHL") and International Human Rights ("IHR") and, more specifically, why issues of convergence arise with regard to these two bodies of law. The article compares the ICJ's approach to the approach taken by regional courts in addressing human rights violations during internal armed conflict with a focus on the European Court of Human Rights' opinion in the Isaveya 3 cases, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights' decision in the Abella 4 case, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights' decisions in the Las Palmeras 5 and Bamaca Velasquez 6 cases. These cases provide a framework to examine the contribution that regional courts have made in developing a coherent jurisprudence on this issue. This article examines the implications of these decisions regarding the relationship between IHL and IHR, the challenges that these decisions pose to the current understandings of the scope of each area of law, and what this all may mean for the future of laws governing internal armed conflicts.