oa Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - The role of international humanitarian law in internal disturbances and tension situations: some reflections

Volume 20, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



While the Geneva Conventions and Protocols set out a fairly elaborate implementation system with regard to international conflicts, one finds no equivalent system with regard to internal conflicts that are incapable of being characterised as "international conflicts". Apart from the protecting power system to implement humanitarian principles, both the Geneva Conventions and Protocol I provide additional system of inquiry, international fact-finding commissions and inquiries by United Nations bodies. They also provide for disciplinary measures and criminal prosecutions in situations where it can be indicated that "grave breaches" or war crimes have been committed by parties to the conflict. To the extent that one can say that international humanitarian law attempts to create a protective system for victims of internal disturbance and tension situations, it is via these limited and indeterminate provisions of the mini convention Common Article 3. But even then, Common Article 3 would apply when the opposing groups or dissidents resort to arms and fall in the hands of contracting party.

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