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Challenges in applying human rights law to armed conflict

31-12-2005 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 860, by Noam Lubell

The debates over the relationship between International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law, have often focused on the question of whether human rights law continues to apply during armed conflict, and if so, on how these two bodies of law can complement each other.


Noam Lubell is Senior Researcher, Human Rights Centre, University of Essex, UK and currently Visiting Research Fellow at the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, Hebrew University, Jerusalem. 

This article takes the continuing applicability of human rights law as an accepted and welcome starting point, and proceeds to lay out some of the challenges and obstacles encountered during the joint application of IHL and Human Rights Law, that still need to be addressed. These include extra-territorial applicability of human rights law; the mandate and expertise of human rights bodies; terminological and conceptual differences between the bodies of law; particular difficulties raised in non-international armed conflicts; and the question of economic, social and cultural rights during armed conflict.  

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