International Law and the Classification of Conflicts

ISBN : 9780199657759

Elizabeth Wilmshurst
568 Pages
162 x 242 mm
Pub date
Aug 2012
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This book comprises contributions by leading experts in the field of international humanitarian law on the subject of the categorisation or classification of armed conflict. It is divided into two sections: the first aims to provide the reader with a sound understanding of the legal questions surrounding the classification of hostilities and its consequences; the second includes ten case studies that examine practice in respect of classification. Understanding how classification operates in theory and practice is a precursor to identifying the relevant rules that govern parties to hostilities. With changing forms of armed conflict which may involve multi-national operations, transnational armed groups and organized criminal gangs, the need for clarity of the law is all-important. The case studies selected for analysis are Northern Ireland, DRC, Colombia, Afghanistan (from 2001), Gaza, South Ossetia, Iraq (from 2003), Lebanon (2006), the so-called war against Al-Qaeda, and future trends. The studies explore the legal consequences of classification particularly in respect of the use of force, detention in armed conflict, and the relationship between human rights law and international humanitarian law. The practice identified in the case studies allows the final chapter to draw conclusions as to the state of the law on classification.


1. Introduction
2. Evolution of Hostilities
3. Legal concepts
4. Provisions of applicable law
5. Northern Ireland
6. Democratic Republic of the Congo
7. Colombia (incl. Ecuador)
8. Afghanistan 2001 onwards
9. Gaza
10. South Ossetia
11. Iraq 2003 onwards
12. Southern Lebanon 2006
13. The War against Al-Qaeda'
14. Future
15. Conclusions

About the author: 

Elizabeth Wilmshurst CMG is Associate Fellow in International Law, at Chatham House (the Royal Institute of International Affairs) and a visiting professor at University College, London University. She was a legal adviser in the United Kingdom diplomatic service between 1974 and 2003, during which time she was the Legal Adviser to the UK mission to the United Nations in New York between 1994 and 1997. She is a co-author of An Introduction to International Criminal Law and Procedure (2nd ed. Cambridge, 2010) and a co-editor of Perspectives on the ICRC Study on Customary International Humanitarian Law (Cambridge, 2007).

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