Nonstate actors in armed conflicts : issues of distinction and reciprocity
New battlefields, old laws : critical debates on asymmetric warfare
New York : Columbia University Press, 2011
p. 106-129 : tabl.
This chapter follows an unconventional approach to reading the Geneva Conventions and their Protocols, by drawing on an expanded body of sources to inform our understanding of the principle of distinction. The chapter reviews the historical evolution of the principle, how it became so fundamental to the laws of war, and how the concept of "combatant" evolved over time from an activity-based to a membership-based designation. The substance of the law, as stated in the Geneva Conventions, is then examined. On the issue of reciprocity, this chapter argues that the involvement of nonstate actors in warfare does not, in and of itself, affect the applicability of the laws of war.