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absolwent Instytutu Stosunków Międzynarodowych Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego
Publication date: 2020-01-28
Studia Politologiczne 2009;13
The fundamental components of human rights are the four Geneva Conventions: of 1864 and 1906 as well as the 1st and 2nd Geneva Conventions of 1949 which defined the scope of protection and treatment of wounded soldiers in armed conflict. The protection of prisoners of war is guaranteed by the 3rd Geneva Convention (1949); the protection of the civilian population during wartime is assured by the 4th Geneva Convention (1949). The scope of protection accorded to victims of international and non-international conflicts is regulated by the 1st and 2nd protocols, supplementary to the Geneva Convention of 1949. Other important components of international humanitarian law are the Hague Convention of 1907 and the Hague Statutes of 1907 which state the general principles of conducting war. From 2001 the United States and her allies, including Poland among others, have been engaged in the so-called War on Terror. Doubts have arisen whether International Human Law is applicable to this campaign, and if so, to what degree. In particular there are doubts concerning the legal protection to which members of terrorist organisations such as Al-Qaeda and Taliban Army soldiers are entitled to. The United States has accorded both these groups of prisoners, the nonexistent in international law, status of illegal combatants. In accordance with article 4 of the 3rd Geneva Convention, former soldiers of the Taliban Army are entitled to the status of prisoners of war, whereas in the case of Al-Qaeda members, the protection should be identical to that which the civilian population is entitled. From the ending of the war in Afghanistan in 2002, several hundred members of the Taliban Army and Al-Qaeda are still being held in the American army base in Guantanamo. The vast majority of them have not been charged. Serious legal doubts have arisen due to the misuse of the term “War on Terror”. International Law states the conditions an armed conflict must fulfill in order for it to be regarded as war: it must be conducted by clearly defined sides (nations, national independence movements and revolutionary groups). In the case of the latter two, they have to show a certain degree of organization and possess a leadership structure. No terrorist organization meets these conditions, so the War on Terror cannot be recognized as a war according to the logic of International Law.
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