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Copyright (c) 2007 Virginia Journal of International Law Association
Virginia Journal of International Law

ARTICLE: A Blurring of the Boundaries: The Application of International Humanitarian Law by Human Rights Bodies

Summer, 2007

47 Va. J. Int'l L. 839

Author

Christine Byron*

Excerpt



Introduction
 
The blurring of boundaries between different fields is a feature of modern international law. This has been identified by Antonio Cassese, who explained that specialized areas of laws which used to make up "tight legal compartments" are "gradually tending to influence one another...and international courts are coming to look upon them as parts of a whole." 1 This Article will examine this phenomenon with respect to the interaction between human rights law and international humanitarian law. 2 While commentators have for some time discussed the influence of human rights upon humanitarian law, 3 this Article will instead concentrate upon how human rights treaty bodies are breaking down the barriers between the two areas of law by applying or referring to humanitarian law.

The context for this discussion is that the traditional enforcement mechanisms of international humanitarian law often appear inadequate to secure sufficient compliance to ameliorate the situation of civilians in the conflicts afflicting many parts of the globe. It has often been said that what is needed is not more humanitarian law, but better methods of enforcing this law. This Article will commence with a brief discussion of the limitations of the traditional enforcement mechanisms of humanitarian law to ascertain whether this has prompted victims to turn to human rights bodies.

Secondly, this Article will examine whether human rights bodies, when dealing with conflict situations, have applied pure human rights law or whether they have commenced blurring the boundaries between two previously separate ...
 
 
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