Book Chapter Details
Mandatory Fields
Ó hAdhmaill,F. and Ritchie, M.
2020 April
International Human Rights, Social Policy and Global Development: Critical Perspectives
Conflict, ‘Terrorism’ and Non-State Actors
Policy Press/Bristol University Press
Bristol UK
Optional Fields
Terrorism Conflict War on Terror
International humanitarian law (IHL), embodied in the main in the 1949 Geneva Conventions, is supposed to provide protections to civilians and captured or wounded combatants during wartime and, indeed, regulate war to make it more ‘humane’. However these human rights mechanisms have faced challenges from changing forms of armed conflict in the world. In particular, while most armed conflicts up until World War Two had been between states, since then, the vast majority of conflicts have not been directly between states but have usually involved states and non-state actors (sometimes sponsored by or acting as surrogates for other states). This chapter looks at some of the difficulties that modern conflicts in the world pose for both IHL and international human rights in general. One of the main challenges posed for human rights by such conflicts is that most have not been recognised at the time as ‘wars’ but referred to as ‘emergencies’ or ‘terrorism’. Consequently IHL has often not applied, while international human rights law (IHRL) have often been derogated from or ignored by all sides involved in conflict. The ability to ignore or circumvent IHL and derogate from IHRL makes safeguarding rights difficult. However, at the very least the existence of IHL and IHRL can provide tools and benchmarks for NGOs and individuals to pursue the upholding of a minimum standard of rights, and to campaign and lobby for change into the future. As in so many other areas relating to universal human rights, rights during armed conflicts remain a site of struggle.
McCann, G. and Ó hAdhmaill,F.
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