Conflicts of law : NGOs, international law, and civilian protection in wartime
Convergence and conflicts of human rights and international humanitarian law in military operations
Pretoria : Pretoria University Law Press, 2014
Protecting a population from harm was long thought to be neatly divided into rules for armed conflict situations and rules for peacetime. However, parallel to that distinction being disavowed - or at least muddled - has been the increasing role played by human rights organisations in areas where international humanitarian law (IHL) is applicable. Human rights organisations have increasingly added IHL to their work. More and more have taken on conducting field investigations in battle zones, advocating for treaties on weapons such as anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions, and playing an active role in proceedings before the international criminal courts. In doing so they have had to develop research and advocacy skills on IHL. At the same time, they have been able to bring to the debates on IHL issues, more in-depth understandings of international human rights law. This has been particularly useful in those areas where the boundaries of IHL and human rights law intersect or overlap. Often these have been issues where IHL has been vague, such as the rules for the treatment of detainees in non-international armed conflicts. On other issues, such as humanitarian access, IHL rules are more protective than those of human rights law. And on particularly vexing issues such as ‘targeted killings’, the jury remains out as to the best way to apply international law to ensure civilians the best protection from wrongful attack.