The face of war has changed significantly since the end of the Second World War, and it will in all likelihood continue to do so. The apparent historical trend of warfare has shifted from the international, to the internal, to the internationalized. Yet despite the constant evolution in the kinds of wars that humans and States wage against one another, international law—and international humanitarian law (IHL), in particular—has remained relatively ineffective in keeping pace with the legal demands of post-modern warfare. To date, the emergence of terrorist cells, ‘enemy combatants’, and other strictly non-State actors involved in armed conflicts around the globe have proved to be elusive categories to the antiquated legal distinctions present in the vast body of IHL, grounded primarily upon the four Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols. The Copenhagen Process on the Handling of Detainees in International Military Operations is a promising attempt to remedy this seeming legal vacuum. Comparing and contrasting the practices of the Canadian and Danish military forces handling of detainees while operating in Afghanistan, this article suggests that the Copenhagen Process, although not a ‘perfect’ system of inclusivity and transparency, is nevertheless a meritorious development in the evolution of IHL that should be supported by all those with an interest in preserving the dignity and well-being of those most deleteriously affected by the threats of warfare—the human beings on the ground.
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