IRRC No. 881

Has the armed conflict in Afghanistan affected the rules on the conduct of hostilities?

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The armed conflict in Afghanistan since 2001 has raised manifold questions pertaining to the humanitarian rules relative to the conduct of hostilities. In Afghanistan, as is often the case in so-called asymmetric conflicts, the geographical and temporal boundaries of the battlefield, and the distinction between civilians and fighters, are increasingly blurred. As a result, the risks for both civilians and soldiers operating in Afghanistan are high. The objective of this article is to assess whether – and if so how much – the armed conflict in Afghanistan has affected the application and interpretation of the principles of distinction, proportionality, and precaution – principles that form the core of legal rules pertaining to the conduct of hostilities.

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