Use of irregular/civilian forces in war




 
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April 1st, 2013  
RusCan2013
 

Topic: Use of irregular/civilian forces in war


Something I've been thinking about, which complicates modern warfare.

What happens when civilians go to war?

This could be private contractors, such as Blackwater was in Iraq

or it could be volunteer fighters, like this Russian Cossack in South Ossetia in 2008

or this tribal militiaman in Yemen

Motivations are different (money in the first case; ethnic kinship [between Terekian Cossacks and Ossetians] and possibly Russian patriotism in the second; tribal, and perhaps religious, affiliation in the third), but, the point is same: none of these three men are wearing a military uniform, but all three are in a war zone and engaged or on their way to engage, in combat.

There are all sorts of conventions and agreements and rules of engagement regarding civilians in warfare. But, most of those tend to assume the civilians would be unarmed non-combatants. How exactly does international law deal with armed civilian combatants? I am interested to know. Since guys like Omar Khadr did get sent to Guantanamo, even though they were civilian, did the US use some exception in the laws for that, or did it simply ignore the laws?
 


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