United Nations A/hrc/19/68


Non-state actors and international human rights law



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Non-state actors and international human rights law: In its first report, the Commission noted that while non-state actors cannot formally become parties to the international human rights treaties, they must nevertheless respect the fundamental human rights of persons in areas where such actors exercise de facto control.26 The Commission therefore examined allegations of human rights violations committed by the Qadhafi Government and the thuwar.

2. International humanitarian law

  1. International humanitarian law, also known as the law of armed conflict, is binding on all parties participating in an armed conflict that meets the threshold criteria. It comprises the four Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 as well as its Protocols I and II and an array of other instruments and customary principles that protect those most vulnerable to the effects of armed conflict.27 In its first report, the Commission noted that Libya was a party to the Geneva Conventions and its Protocols28 as well as several other international humanitarian law instruments concerning weaponry and mercenaries.29

  2. The Commission previously observed that the non-international armed conflict which developed in Libya in late February 2011 triggered the applicability of Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions Relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflict (Protocol II) together with the provisions of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.

  3. In relation to the international armed conflict that ensued once the international forces engaged the Qadhafi forces,30 the full provisions of the four Geneva Conventions, as well as customary international humanitarian norms relating to international armed conflict applied.31 Libya and most of the States involved in the military intervention have also ratified Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflict (Protocol I) bringing its provisions into effect.32




  1. As the Security Council has underlined in its resolution 1325 (2011), it is important for all States to apply fully the relevant norms of international humanitarian law and international human rights law to women and girls, and to take special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence during armed conflict.33



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