Definitions

Non-combatant

Non-combatant

[non-kuhm-bat-nt, non-kom-buh-tnt]
Non-combatant is a military and legal term describing civilians not engaged in combat. It also includes (Geneva Conventions Protocol I, 8 June 1977, Art 43.2) persons, such as medical personnel and chaplains (who are regular soldiers but are protected because of their function) and soldiers who are hors de combat.

Article 50 in Chapter II: "Civilians and Civilian Population" of Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions defines that a civilian is not a privileged combatant. Article 51 describes the protection that must be given to civilians (unless they are unprivileged combatants) and civilian populations. Chapter III of Protocol I regulates the targeting of civilian objects. Article 8(2)(b)(i) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court also prohibits attacks directed against civilians. Not all states have ratified Protocol I or the Rome Statute, but it is an accepted principle of international humanitarian law that the direct targeting of civilians is a breach of the customary laws of war and is binding on all belligerents.

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