Table of Contents

War Crimes and the Conduct of Hostilities

War Crimes and the Conduct of Hostilities

Challenges to Adjudication and Investigation

Edited by Fausto Pocar, Marco Pedrazzi and Micaela Frulli

Most charges for war crimes are brought for violations of the rules on the treatment of protected persons in armed conflict situations. However in certain cases, they are brought for serious breach of international humanitarian law rules governing the conduct of hostilities. This book seeks to address this somewhat neglected area of international criminal law.

Chapter 6: Using human shields as a war crime

Marco Pedrazzi

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, public international law, terrorism and security law


The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) study on customary international humanitarian law (IHL) summarizes the various prohibitions against using human shields contained in the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 (GCs), in Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts of 8 June 1977 (AP I) and in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) of 17 July 1998 as ‘couched in terms of using the presence (or movements) of civilians or other protected persons to render certain points or areas (or military forces) immune from military operations’. Therefore human shields can be civilians or persons belonging to other protected categories, such as prisoners of war or ‘hors de combat’ or in substance, all persons who ‘shall not be the object of attack’. These persons become human shields whenever they are placed (or place themselves) or are directed to move (or move) in, around, or close to, certain points, areas or people, in order to shield those items from military operations.

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