International Committee of the Red Cross

Internment in armed conflict: Basic rules and challenges

Article 25 November 2014

Deprivation of liberty - detention - is a common and lawful occurrence in armed conflict that is governed by a large number of provisions of international humanitarian law (IHL). Like other bodies of law, IHL prohibits arbitrary detention.

Provided below is an outline of the basic concepts and rules related to detention in both international and non-international armed conflict with, subsequently, a particular focus on internment, i.e. detention for security reasons in situations of armed conflict. The similarities and differences between IHL and the corresponding rules of international human rights law are also addressed where relevant.