This article takes stock of the different merits and critics of the ICRC's interpretive guidance on the notion of direct participation in hostilities under international humanitarian. The merits include the fact that it does not only seek to protect the civilian population from the dangers of warfare, it equally takes into consideration the interests of armed forces. It will also provide an important and useful tool for national and international tribunals when they are called upon to consider the issue of direct participation. However, there are certain areas where the balance seems to be not maintained: it drastically limits the scope of targeting by members of State armed forces, risking the document to be dubbed as impractical and seriously undermining respect for, and observance of, IHL by State armed forces. The "continuous combat function" test for membership in organized armed group also gives regularly participating civilians a privileged, unbalanced, and unjustified status of protection in comparison to members of the opposing armed forces, who are continuously targetable. The concept of "revolving door" of civilian protection is also subject to critics especially with regard to protection of civilians who have repeatedly participated in the past and who is also likely to participate again directly.
By entering this website, you consent to the use of technologies, such as cookies and analytics, to customise content, advertising and provide social media features. This will be used to analyse traffic to the website, allowing us to understand visitor preferences and improving our services. Learn more