This chapter considers the normative underpinnings of the present-day regulation of combatancy. It argues that a wholesale denial of combatant status to fighters in internationalized armed conflicts would be incongruous with the principles of distinction and equal application of the law. The chapter then considers specific objections against the extension of combatant status to non-state actors from the perspective of internationalized armed conflicts. It argues that although some of the objections carry certain weight in the context of traditional civil wars, their effect in internationalized armed conflicts is significantly weaker. The chapter thus shows that in principle, the availability of combatant status to fighters in internationalized armed conflicts is in accordance with the normative underpinnings of International Humanitarian Law.
Keywords: combatant status, equal application principle, fighters, international humanitarian law, internationalized armed conflict, law of armed conflict, non-state actors, principle of distinction, prosecution, sovereignty
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