The protection of civilians and civilian objects against hostilities
Armed conflicts and the law
Cambridge [etc.] : Intersentia, 2016
This chapter begins with an overview of the protection granted to civilians and civilian objects during hostilities in international armed conflict. The notion of civilian has only been defined negatively, thus in order to determine who is a civilian and what constitutes a civilian object, one has to discuss who is a combatant and what amounts to a military objective. This first section then turns to discussing the protection of civilians and civilian objects against direct attacks, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, and the duty to take precautionary measures. It ends with an overview of object which enjoy special protection under international humanitarian law (IHL). The chapter subsequently turns to examine to what extent protection is granted to the civilian population and civilian objects within non-international armed conflict. In such conflicts the distinction between civilians and combatants is less clear. Moreover, conventional IHL does not contain an explicit rule on the distinction between military objectives and civilians objects in the case of a non-international armed conflict, and only provides a minimalistic protection of the civilian population against hostilities. Nevertheless, customary international law has been able to fill the void and provide for a more comprehensive protection within this type of armed conflict.