This chapter sets out the scope of a State’s obligations to protestors when protests take place in the context of an armed conflict or occupation. The author discusses the international legal regime applicable to use of lethal force during demonstrations looking at both law enforcement and conduct of hostilities norms. While the law enforcement model is governed by international human rights law and prevents the use of such force unless strictly unavoidable in self-defence or to safeguard another’s life, international humanitarian law allows the targeting of civilians directly participating in hostilities in armed conflict situations. However, it is argued that the mere fact of participating in a protest, even when engaging in violent acts, can generally not be regarded as individual conduct that constitutes part of the hostilities in support of one party. Therefore, protestors – even violent ones – cannot be seen as a new category of combatants who can be lawfully targeted and killed on sight.
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