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Combatant and POW statuses are widely considered as closely linked. Thus, Article 4A GC III,<ref>GC III, Geneva Convention III, Convention (III) Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, 12 August 1949, 75 UNTS 135</ref> which defines the conditions for the acquisition of POW status, is regarded as also implying the conditions for combatant status.<ref>Yves Sandoz, Christophe Swinarski, and Bruno Zimmermann (eds), <i>Commentary on the Additional Protocols of 8 June 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949</i> (ICRC 1987) 515 [1677]; Sean Watts, ‘Who Is a Prisoner of War?’ in A Clapham, P Gaeta, and M Sassòli (eds), <i>The 1949 Geneva Conventions: A Commentary</i> (OUP 2015) 890 [2]; Emily Crawford, <i>Identifying the Enemy: Civilian Participation in Armed Conflict</i> (OUP 2015) 17.</ref> These criteria are considered to reflect customary international law.<ref>ICRC, CIHL Study, Rule 3, 11, 13; Tallinn Manual 2.0, commentary to Rule 87, para. 2.</ref> Accordingly, there are two main types of combatants in international armed conflicts:
 
Combatant and POW statuses are widely considered as closely linked. Thus, Article 4A GC III,<ref>GC III, Geneva Convention III, Convention (III) Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, 12 August 1949, 75 UNTS 135</ref> which defines the conditions for the acquisition of POW status, is regarded as also implying the conditions for combatant status.<ref>Yves Sandoz, Christophe Swinarski, and Bruno Zimmermann (eds), <i>Commentary on the Additional Protocols of 8 June 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949</i> (ICRC 1987) 515 [1677]; Sean Watts, ‘Who Is a Prisoner of War?’ in A Clapham, P Gaeta, and M Sassòli (eds), <i>The 1949 Geneva Conventions: A Commentary</i> (OUP 2015) 890 [2]; Emily Crawford, <i>Identifying the Enemy: Civilian Participation in Armed Conflict</i> (OUP 2015) 17.</ref> These criteria are considered to reflect customary international law.<ref>ICRC, CIHL Study, Rule 3, 11, 13; Tallinn Manual 2.0, commentary to Rule 87, para. 2.</ref> Accordingly, there are two main types of combatants in international armed conflicts:
   
* firstly, <b>members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict</b>,<ref>Art 4A(1) GC III.</ref> including “members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power”<ref>Art 4A(3) GC III.</ref>.
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* firstly, <b>members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict</b>,<ref>Art. 4 A (1) GC III.</ref> including “members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power”<ref>Art. 4 A (3) GC III.</ref>.
* The second category consists of “<b>[m]embers of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organised resistance movements, belonging to a Party of the conflict</b>”.<ref>Art 4A(2) GC III; see also Tallinn Manual 2.0, commentary to Rule 87, para. 1-5.</ref>
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* The second category consists of “<b>[m]embers of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organised resistance movements, belonging to a Party of the conflict</b>”.<ref>Art. 4 A (2) GC III; see also Tallinn Manual 2.0, commentary to Rule 87, para. 1-5.</ref>
   
 
Groups in the latter category, also referred to as <b>irregular armed forces</b>, need to fulfil four collective criteria in order for their members to attain combatant and POW status, i.e.:
 
Groups in the latter category, also referred to as <b>irregular armed forces</b>, need to fulfil four collective criteria in order for their members to attain combatant and POW status, i.e.:
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# wear a distinctive emblem or attire that is recognizable at a distance,
 
# wear a distinctive emblem or attire that is recognizable at a distance,
 
# carry arms openly, and
 
# carry arms openly, and
# conduct operations in accordance with IHL.<ref>Art 4A(2) GC III; Tallinn Manual 2.0, commentary to Rule 87, para. 5. </ref></b>
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# conduct operations in accordance with IHL.<ref>Art. 4A (2) GC III; Tallinn Manual 2.0, commentary to Rule 87, para. 5. </ref></b>
   
In addition to this, they must <b>belong to a Party to the conflict</b>.<ref>Art 4A(2) GC III.</ref>
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In addition to this, they must <b>belong to a Party to the conflict</b>.<ref>Art. 4A (2) GC III.</ref>
   
 
The expert opinion is split as to whether members of regular armed forces (i.e., those falling into the first of the two categories mentioned earlier) have to also fulfil these four criteria to obtain combatant status (extensive view), or whether in their case, mere membership suffices for combatant status (mere membership approach).<ref>Tallinn Manual 2.0, commentary to Rule 87, para. 5-6; Agreeing e.g.: Mallison/Mallison, Levie, Wedgwood, Schmitt, Ohlin, Corn/Watkin/Williamson; disagreeing: Draper, Goldman/Tittemore, Paust, Wallach, Pfanner, LaBlanc, Watts, Mačák.</ref>
 
The expert opinion is split as to whether members of regular armed forces (i.e., those falling into the first of the two categories mentioned earlier) have to also fulfil these four criteria to obtain combatant status (extensive view), or whether in their case, mere membership suffices for combatant status (mere membership approach).<ref>Tallinn Manual 2.0, commentary to Rule 87, para. 5-6; Agreeing e.g.: Mallison/Mallison, Levie, Wedgwood, Schmitt, Ohlin, Corn/Watkin/Williamson; disagreeing: Draper, Goldman/Tittemore, Paust, Wallach, Pfanner, LaBlanc, Watts, Mačák.</ref>
   
The conditions for combatant status differ for States parties to AP I. AP I drops the distinction between regular and irregular forces and stipulates that the “armed forces of a Party to a conflict consist of all organized armed forces, groups and units which are under a command responsible to that Party for the conduct of its subordinates”.<ref>Art 43(1) AP I. </ref> It adds that such forces “shall be subject to an internal disciplinary system which, <i>inter alia</i>, shall enforce compliance with the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict.”<ref>Art 43(1) AP I. </ref> Furthermore, Article 44(3) AP I relaxes the conditions for combatancy in specific circumstances, normally understood as referring to occupied territories and wars of national liberation,<ref>Knut Ipsen, ´Combatants and Non-combatants´ in Dieter Fleck (ed.), <i>Handbook of International Humanitarian Law</i> (3rd edn OUP 2013) 90-91.</ref> and with respect to the obligations to wear a distinctive emblem or attire recognizable at a distance and to carry arms openly.<ref>Ian Henderson, <i>The Contemporary Law of Targeting</i> (Martinus Nijhoff 2009) 83. </ref> However, the criteria of Article 4A GC III are not deprived of all relevance, even for States parties to AP I. The savings clause of Article 44(6) AP I guarantees that non-fulfilment of the conditions of AP I does not compromise POW and combatant status attained based on Article 4 GC III.<ref>Art 44(6) AP I. </ref>
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The conditions for combatant status differ for States parties to AP I. AP I drops the distinction between regular and irregular forces and stipulates that the “armed forces of a Party to a conflict consist of all organized armed forces, groups and units which are under a command responsible to that Party for the conduct of its subordinates”.<ref>Art. 43(1), API. </ref> It adds that such forces “shall be subject to an internal disciplinary system which, <i>inter alia</i>, shall enforce compliance with the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict.”<ref>Art. 43(1), API. </ref> Furthermore, Article 44(3) AP I relaxes the conditions for combatancy in specific circumstances, normally understood as referring to occupied territories and wars of national liberation,<ref>Knut Ipsen, ´Combatants and Non-combatants´ in Dieter Fleck (ed.), <i>Handbook of International Humanitarian Law</i> (3rd edn OUP 2013) 90-91.</ref> and with respect to the obligations to wear a distinctive emblem or attire recognizable at a distance and to carry arms openly.<ref>Ian Henderson, <i>The Contemporary Law of Targeting</i> (Martinus Nijhoff 2009) 83. </ref> However, the criteria of Article 4A GC III are not deprived of all relevance, even for States parties to AP I. The savings clause of Article 44(6) AP I guarantees that non-fulfilment of the conditions of AP I does not compromise POW and combatant status attained based on Article 4 GC III.<ref>Art. 44(6), API. </ref>
   
 
Accordingly, <b>for States parties to AP I, all members of the armed forces of a party to the conflict qualify as combatants, except for medical and religious personnel.</b><ref>ICRC, CIHL Study, Rule 3.</ref>
 
Accordingly, <b>for States parties to AP I, all members of the armed forces of a party to the conflict qualify as combatants, except for medical and religious personnel.</b><ref>ICRC, CIHL Study, Rule 3.</ref>
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<b>Combatant status does not exist in non-international armed conflicts.</b><ref>ICRC, CIHL Study, Rule 3.</ref>
 
<b>Combatant status does not exist in non-international armed conflicts.</b><ref>ICRC, CIHL Study, Rule 3.</ref>
   
<b>Civilians</b>, by contrast, are persons who do “not belong to one of the categories of persons referred to in Article 4A(1), (2), (3) and (6) of the Third Convention and in Article 43” of AP I.<ref>Art 50(1) AP I; ICRC, CIHL Study, Rules 5, 17 and 18.</ref> Any person who is not a combatant must be considered as a civilian.<ref>Hans-Peter and Knut Dörmann, ´Protection of Civilian Population´ in Dieter Fleck (ed), <i>Handbook of International Humanitarian Law</i> (3rd edn OUP 2013) 233; ICRC, CIHL Study, Rules 5, 17 and 18.</ref> In case of doubt as to a person’s legal status, AP I prescribes that that person should also be considered to be a civilian.<ref>Art 50(1) AP I.</ref> Civilians benefit from a general protection from attack.<ref>Art 51(2) AP I; ICRC, CIHL Study, Rules 1, 7 and 25.</ref> Only if civilians are [[Direct participation in hostilities|directly participating in hostilities]], they lose their protection from attack for such time as they do so.<ref>Art 51(3) AP I. </ref>
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<b>Civilians</b>, by contrast, are persons who do “not belong to one of the categories of persons referred to in Article 4 A (1), (2), (3) and (6) of the Third Convention and in Article 43” of AP I.<ref>Art. 50 (1) AP I; ICRC, CIHL Study, Rules 5, 17 and 18.</ref> Any person who is not a combatant must be considered as a civilian.<ref>Hans-Peter and Knut Dörmann, ´Protection of Civilian Population´ in Dieter Fleck (ed.), <i>Handbook of International Humanitarian Law</i> (3rd edn OUP 2013) 233; ICRC, CIHL Study, Rules 5, 17 and 18.</ref> In case of doubt as to a person’s legal status, AP I prescribes that that person should also be considered to be a civilian.<ref>Art. 50 (1) AP I.</ref> Civilians benefit from a general protection from attack.<ref>Art. 51 (2) AP I; ICRC, CIHL Study, Rules 1, 7 and 25.</ref> Only if civilians are [[Direct participation in hostilities|directly participating in hostilities]], they lose their protection from attack for such time as they do so.<ref>Art. 51(3) API. </ref>
   
 
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