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International Humanitarian Law

Rules, Controversies, and Solutions to Problems Arising in Warfare

Marco Sassòli

International humanitarian law (IHL) protects persons and property affected by armed conflicts. Focusing on the controversies that impact IHL in practice, this much-anticipated book from leading expert Marco Sassòli discusses when IHL applies, its substantive rules, how to ensure its respect and whether the traditional distinction between international and non-international armed conflicts remains relevant.
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Chapter 6: Scope of application: when does IHL apply?

Marco Sassòli



One of IHL’s distinguishing features is that it does not apply to all people in all places at all times. Except for rules that are also applicable in peacetime, IHL applies only to armed conflicts. This chapter will examine IHL’s material, geographical, temporal and personal (active and passive) scope of application as well as the concept of nexus. As IHL only applies to armed conflicts, its material scope requires understanding what constitutes an armed conflict. Its geographical scope relates to determining where IHL applies if an armed conflict exists, while its temporal scope addresses the period of time IHL applies. IHL’s active and passive personal scope of application addresses who is bound and who is protected by IHL, respectively. Finally, we will also examine the concept of nexus that determines which acts committed during an armed conflict are governed by IHL.

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