The regulation of non-international armed conflicts

Can a privilege of belligerency be envisioned in the law of non-international armed conflicts?

The Debate section of the Review aims to contribute to reflection on contemporary questions of humanitarian law, policy or action. In this issue of the Review, we invited two experts in international humanitarian law (IHL) – Claus Kress and Frédéric Mégret – to debate on how IHL applicable in non-international armed conflict (NIAC) should develop. In the two pieces that follow, Professor Kreβ submits for debate a new norm of international law outlawing NIACs – a jus contra bellum internum – with a corresponding set of rules applicable in NIACs – a jus in bello interno. The jus in bello interno would give the "privilege of belligerency" – akin to combatants' privilege in international armed conflicts – to non-State actors in NIACs, providing an incentive for them to comply with these new rules of civil war. Frédéric Mégret critically examines the proposed privilege of belligerency, pointing out its problematic aspects and positing that the creation of such a privilege is, in fact, not desirable.

About the authors

Claus Kress
Professor of Public International Law and Criminal Law / Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, McGill University

Claus Kress is Professor of Public International Law and Criminal Law. He is director of the Institute of International Peace and Security Law at the University of Cologne, where he also holds the Chair of German and International Criminal Law. In 2012, together with Stefan Barriga, he edited the Travaux Preparatoires of the Crime of Aggression (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2012).

Frédéric Mégret
Associate Professor

Frédéric Mégret is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, McGill University, and Canada Research Chair in the Law of Human Rights and Legal Pluralism.