An Alternative Discussion on the Direct Participation in Hostilities:
WHO ARE the ‘Unlawful Combatants' or “Civilians”?
WHO ARE THE ‘UNLAWFUL COMBATANTS’ or “CIVILIANS”?
Although the arm conflicts of 19th and 20th centuries were between states, the modern conflicts are essentially between the states and different sub-state armed groups or among these groups such as in the cases of Rwanda, Former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria. In that regard, the term of direct participation in hostilities commenced to be appeared as an ordinary way of defending/attacking for national or international rights.
However, at this new type of armed conflicts, not only men are the carrier of the missions and weapons, but also “children” and “women” turn into a guerilla in each night as experienced in Palestinian or ISIS cases. In this respect, the distinction between “civilians” as protected persons conventionally including women and children, and “unlawful combatants” as legitimate targets traditionally including males, becomes unclear. This paper aims to open a discussion on the term of direct participation in hostilities by particularly referring the situations of women and children in contemporary conflicts and interventions and to determine a close or narrow interpretation by attributing Geneva Conventions and Additionals protocols, commentaires and cases.
Keywords: Direct Participation, Civilians, Armed Conflicts