(1) (f) “Belligerent Party” means a State Party to an international armed conflict.
- For the purposes of this Manual, a “Belligerent Party” is always a State.
- An “international armed conflict” is an armed conflict between two or more States (see Rule 1 (r)).
- For Contracting Parties to AP/I, according to Art. 1 (4) thereof, the phrase international armed conflict includes “armed conflicts in which peoples are fighting against colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist régimes in the exercise of their right of self-determination, as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations”. Hence, Contracting Parties to AP/I, the term “Belligerent Party” extends to an authority representing a people engaged in a conflict of the type dealt with in Art. 1 (4) of AP/I. This is not accepted by non-Contracting Parties to AP/I.
- Armed conflicts between the regular armed forces of a State and opposing non-State organized armed groups, or between non-State organized armed groups, are non-international armed conflicts (see the Commentary on Rule 2 (a), especially paragraphs 5, 6 and 7 thereof).
- International law has not produced a universally-accepted term to refer to States engaged in an international armed conflict. For instance, whereas the 1907 Hague Convention (IV) uses the term “belligerents”, AP/I adopts the phraseology “Party to the conflict”. The semantic distinctions, however, are not substantive in nature. In view of the rather loose use of terms for describing those entities that, under the law of international armed conflict, qualify as Parties to an international armed conflict, the Group of Experts decided to adopt throughout the text of this Manual the expression “Belligerent Party”, and to do so consistently in all contexts.
- All belligerent rights reflected in this Manual are vested in Belligerent Parties as defined here, i.e. States engaged in an international armed conflict.
Categories: Section A: Definitions