International law should prohibit intentionally killing combatants “if it becomes apparent” that they perform noncombat functions. Importantly, one need not presume that combatants perform noncombat functions in case of doubt or take risky precautions to avoid mistakenly killing such combatants. In addition, collateral harm to such combatants will seldom render acts of war‐or the resort to war‐disproportionate. It is morally wrong to unnecessarily kill opposing combatants, including those who could be safely captured. Unfortunately, international law does not currently prohibit such killings. Such combatants are not hors de combat and the principle of humanity does not directly prohibit such killings. Instead, the principle of humanity obliges states to instruct their armed forces to refrain from such killings. Over time, convergent state practice and opinion will generate specific rules of customary international law that prohibit such killings. International human rights law may also place limits on such killings.
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