The role of necessity in international humanitarian and human rights law
Host item entries:
Israel law review, Vol. 47, issue 2, July 2014, p. 225-251
The nature of armed conflict has changed dramatically in recent decades. In particular, it is increasingly the case that hostilities now occur alongside ‘everyday’ situations. This has led to a pressing need to determine when a ‘conduct of hostilities’ model (governed by international humanitarian law – IHL) applies and when a ‘law enforcement’ model (governed by international human rights law – IHRL) applies. This, in turn, raises the question of whether these two legal regimes are incompatible or whether they might be applied in parallel. It is on this question that the current article focuses, examining it at the level of principle. Whilst most accounts of the principles underlying these two areas of law focus on humanitarian considerations, few have compared the role played by necessity in each. This article seeks to address this omission. It demonstrates that considerations of necessity play a prominent role in both IHL and IHRL, albeit with differing consequences. It then applies this necessity-based analysis to suggest a principled basis for rationalising the relationship between IHL and IHRL, demonstrating how this approach would operate in practice. It is shown that, by emphasising the role of necessity in IHL and IHRL, an approach can be adopted that reconciles the two in a manner that is sympathetic to their object and purpose.