Legality of Attacks against Human Shields in Armed Conflict

Eduard Hovsepyan


The numerous examples of the use of human shields in armed conflicts display the contemporaneity of the problem discussed in this article and the need for a recipe for effectively combating the continuing commission of this war crime. In spite of the fact that an absolute prohibition of the use of human shields in international armed conflicts exists, as enshrined in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Additional Protocol I, research conducted so far has not managed to come up with an unequivocal conclusion as to the attacking party’s rights and obligations when the defending party resorts to human shields in an attempt to prevent potential attacks. Thus, our work will try to determine when are attacks carried out against human shields lawful, under what circumstance and which principles of international humanitarian law (from hereinafter IHL) must be taken into account by the attacking party.


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