Principles of International Humanitarian Law

Principles of International Humanitarian Law

Jonathan Crowe and Kylie Weston-Scheuber

This book provides a clear and concise explanation of the central principles of international humanitarian law (or the law of armed conflict) while situating them in a broader philosophical, ethical and legal context.

Chapter 5: Protection of combatants hors de combat

Jonathan Crowe and Kylie Weston-Scheuber

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, public international law, politics and public policy, human rights


Combatants are protected by the law of armed conflict in a number of different ways. Combatants engaged in active hostilities are protected by the restrictions on means and methods of warfare discussed in Chapter 3. The prohibition against inflicting superfluous injury, for example, exists primarily for the protection of combatants. Combatants also benefit from the restrictions on means and methods of warfare imposed by the doctrine of military necessity, the prohibitions on specific types of weapons deemed to cause unnecessary suffering and the rules concerning perfidy and forbidden orders. This chapter, by contrast, is concerned with the protections afforded to combatants placed hors de combat (outside the fight) through capture, injury or other forms of incapacitation. Article 41 of Additional Protocol I provides that a person shall be regarded as hors de combat if she or he is in the power of an adverse party, has clearly indicated an intention to surrender or has been rendered unconscious or incapacitated by wounds or sickness and is therefore incapable of defending her- or himself. The provision further stipulates that persons hors de combat are not to be attacked.

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information