This chapter examines the access to combatant status by members of non-state armed groups from a historical perspective. It demonstrates that practically since the time the distinction between combatants and non-combatants had solidified into law, the applicable rules have permitted members of at least some non-state armed groups to benefit from combatant status. At various times in the history of regulation of armed conflicts, these groups have included militias and volunteer corps, armed forces professing allegiance to a non-recognized governmental authority, and national liberation movements. Overall, the historical analysis presented in this chapter suggests that it would be erroneous to interpret the rules on eligibility for combatancy in the context of internationalized armed conflicts in an unduly restrictive manner.
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