RICR No. 840

Combating lawlessness in gray zone conflicts through minimum humanitarian standards

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This article focusses on the issue of fundamental standards of humanity, a set of principles to reflect both international human rights and humanitarian law, as a means to address the insufficient protection of persons in situations of internal violence. Such fundamental standards of humanity, applicable at all times, in all circumstances and to all parties, are necessary to address four areas: 1) States are not party to international instruments; 2) human rights obligations are derogated from; 3) international humanitarian law is not applicable or is so but is not applied; and 4) non-state actors may not be bound by obligations under international law. The article provides an overview of the steps taken by the international community to address the issue, discusses the sources of international human rights law, humanitarian law and refugee law from which fundamental standards of humanity could be drawn, and suggests further steps to be taken. The authors are convinced that fundamental standards of humanity would serve as an educational tool to enhance effective implementation of relevant international law.

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