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International Review of the Red Cross, 2008, No. 871 – Human rights

Today, nobody questions that international humanitarian law and international human rights law apply during armed conflict and that the two bodies of law are complementary and influence each other. While international humanitarian law remains the special law applicable during armed conflict, conflicting norms or standards sometimes require interpretation to determine whether a rule of humanitarian law or human rights law prevails in a concrete setting. Questions relating to detention in non-international armed conflict and law enforcement in situations of occupation dominate this substantive debate.

Issue No. 871 - 2008

Theme: Human rights

Table of contents

  • Editorial - IRRC September 2008 No 871
    Toni Pfanner
  • Interview with H. E. Ambassador Luis Alfonso De Alba
    Luis Alfonso De Alba was the first President of the United Nations Human Rights Council and held this mandate from 19 June 2006 to 18 June 2007. During that period, the Council was entrusted by the General Assembly with the task of designing the new institutions of the international human rights system, while at the same time fulfilling its mandate to protect and promote human rights.
  • Elective affinities? Human rights and humanitarian law
    Cordula Droege
    Complementarity and mutual influence inform the interaction between international humanitarian law and international human rights law in most cases. In some cases when there is contradiction between the two bodies of law, the more specific norm takes precedence ("lex specialis"). The author analyses the question of in which situations either body of law is more specific. She also considers the procedural dimension of this interplay, in particular concerning the rules governing investigations into alleged violations, court access for alleged victims and reparations for wrongdoing.
  • The relationship between international humanitarian law and human rights law from the perspective of a human rights treaty body
    Françoise J. Hampson
    The debate about the simultaneous applicability of international humanitarian law and human rights affects also human rights treaty bodies. The article firstly considers the difficulty for a human rights body of determining whether international humanitarian law is applicable; second, it examines the problems in practice in applying the lex specialis doctrine and the question of derogation in this particular context. The author finally outlines the impact of the debate as to the extent of extraterritorial applicability of human rights law.
  • Human rights litigation and the "war on terror"
    Helen Duffy
    The "War on Terror" has led to grave human rights violations and, in response, to a growing volume of human rights litigation. The article provides an overview of litigation that has unfolded in recent years in relation to issues such as arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment, extraordinary rendition, extra-territorial application of human rights norms and the creeping reach of the "terrorism" label.
  • The relationship between international humanitarian and human rights law where it matters: admissible killing and internment of fighters in non-international armed conflicts
    Marco Sassòli and Laura M. Olson
    The article explores the relationship between international humanitarian and human rights law during non-international armed conflict. It seeks to answer two questions: First, according to which branch of law may a member of an armed group be attacked and killed? Second, may a captured member of an armed force or group be detained similarly to a prisoner of war in international armed conflicts or as prescribed by human rights? Through application of the lex specialis principle, this article discusses possible answers to these questions.
  • The interrelation of the law of occupation and economic, social and cultural rights: the examples of food, health and property
    Sylvain Vité
    The current legal regime relative to occupation is no longer based solely on customary law and treaty-based law as set forth in the law of The Hague and the law of Geneva. The article explores how this regime has undergone a thorough change with the progressive recognition of the applicability of human rights law to the situations that it governs. The author examines the interrelation of international humanitarian law and human rights at the level of their individual rules, and considers whether the rules of international humanitarian law are confirmed, complemented, relativized or even contradicted by those deriving from human rights.
  • The law of military occupation put to the test of human rights law
    Danio Campanelli
    This article examines particularly the applicability of human rights during military occupation. The different interests and values at stake – the interests of the occupying forces and those of the civilian population, the protection of human rights and the derogations necessary to maintain order – reveal many grey areas that still exist in the interaction between human rights law and the law of military occupation.
  • Transfers of detainees – legal framework, non-refoulement and contemporary challenges
    Cordula Droege
    The article outlines the legal framework that governs transfers of individuals, and in particular the international law principle of non-refoulement and other obstacles to transfers. The author addresses some of the new legal and practical challenges arising in detention and transfers in the context of multinational operations abroad and analyses the contemporary practice of transfer agreements.
  • There’s no place like home: States’ obligations in relation to transfers of persons
    Emanuela-Chiara Gillard
    The article sets out States’ obligations in relation to transfers of persons under refugee law, human rights law and international humanitarian law, and revisits the key elements of non-refoulement, including: its application where persons are transferred from one State to another or within the territory of a single State; the range of risks that give rise to application of the principle; important procedural elements; and, its effect on States’ obligations regarding diplomatic assurances.
  • ICRC Protection Policy
    This policy document begins by defining key notions and describing the framework for action. It then outlines the principles of the ICRC’s protection framework, as well as the operational guidelines based on that framework. The document concludes by describing different types of ICRC protection activity and outlining specific considerations related to the various categories of beneficiary.
  • National implementation of international humanitarian law – Biannual update, July to December 2007
    Biannual update on national legislation and case law July–December 2007
  • National implementation of international humanitarian law – Biannual update, January to June 2008
    Biannual update on national legislation and case law January–June 2008
  • Books and articles
    Recent acquisitions of the Library & Research Service