Towards a single definition of armed conflict in international humanitarian law: A critique of internationalized armed conflict
30-06-2003 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 850, by James G. Stewart
The traditional distinction between the rules of international humanitarian law applicable in international armed conflicts and non-international armed conflicts is put under the spot-light in this article. The author revives the calls for a single body of law covering all types of conflicts, relying significantly on the judgments of the international tribunals as well as the fundamental objectives and principles of humanitarian law.
It concludes that the law developed to determine this “internationalization” has created convoluted tests that in practice are near impossible to apply. Even once internationalized, it is difficult to determine the applicable law as relationships and military presences change. Moreover, the international/non-international dichotomy in international humanitarian law has proved susceptible to incredible political manipulation, often at the expense of humanitarian protection. Further considerations of substantive aspects of a single law of armed conflict will be essential in the development of greater humanitarian protection during internationalized armed conflict.