Hague Regulations Essay

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The Hague Regulations The earliest developments in the law of armed conflict were based on the assumption that in a war between two or more states, those who were legitimately entitled to take up arms were the armed forces of those states. Thus “armed forces” was not a term which required definition. Individual members of the armed forces were combatants, another term which was treated as self-evident. The rules of armed conflict therefore were to be applied to armies. It is generally accepted by IHL experts that the first international attempt at defining combatants was included in the International Declaration concerning the laws and Customs of War adopted in Brussels in 1874. Even more recent studies assert without question that the…show more content…
In terms of application, however, these conditions are provisions of the law which are fairly marginal. The Brussels Declaration formed the basis of the definition of combatant which was incorporated into Articles 1 and 3 of the Regulations annexed to the Hague Convention (II) with Respect to the Laws and Customs of War on Land of 1899 and 1907. In a later development, the Brussels/Hague provisions were incorporated into the 1949 Third Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War, in order to establish the qualifications required to receive prisoner of war treatment. Because there is no definition of combatant as such, it has always been difficult to say whether only members of the armed forces are to be considered combatants. This problem is compounded by the fact that the Hague definition provides that the armed forces can include “non-combatants,” with both categories being entitled to prisoner of war status. In other words, in the Hague formulation, the term “armed forces" is not limited to those officially engaged in combat. This provision of the Regulations implies that militias are part of the “armed forces” even though they are not to be considered part of the army, unless the two terms are interchangeable. To sum up, the Hague Regulations did not define the concept of combatant and left it up to each state to decide which members of its armed forces were combatants and which were not.
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