Lex specialis, in legal theory and practice, is a doctrine relating to the interpretation of laws and can apply in both domestic and international law contexts. The doctrine states that if two laws govern the same factual situation, a law governing a specific subject matter (lex specialis) overrides a law governing only general matters (lex generalis). The situation ordinarily arises with regard to the construction of earlier-enacted specific legislation when more general legislation is later passed. However, then, the doctrine called "lex posterior derogat legi priori" may also apply, the younger law overriding the older law.
Understanding Key Concepts in International Humanitarian Law
Through interactive media and a series of exercises, participants also learned to identify types of armed conflicts—international armed conflicts (IAC) or non-international armed conflicts (NIAC) —and distinguish between civilians and combatants. Correctly identifying the type of armed conflict (IAC or NIAC) and status of persons (civilian or combatant) is critical because it determines the protections, privileges, and obligations that are applicable under IHL. For example, IHL’s Special Protections for Civilian Objects such as hospitals, religious and cultural sites has allowed such institutions to serve as a place of refuge in times of war.
International humanitarian law (law of war) is a field of international law regulating armed conflict between states, and more recently, between states and informal groups and individuals. See Jean Pictet, Development and Principles of International Humanitarian Law (1985). International humanitarian law governs both the legality of justifications for war (jus ad bellum, or when states can resort to war) and the legality of wartime conduct (jus in bello, or how states must behave themselves during war).
International Humanitarian Law
All EU Member States have ratified the four Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols. 196 States, including all UN Member States, have ratified the 4th Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilians in Time of War, which equals universal acceptance. However, 22 have not ratified the important 1st Additional Protocol relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts and 28 States have not ratified the 2nd Additional Protocol relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts.
Customary international humanitarian law
This Study has been the subject of serious criticism, in light of controversial ways used for identifying customary humanitarian law. One criticism has been that "Although the Study’s introduction describes what is generally an appropriate approach to assessing State practice, the Study frequently fails to apply this approach in a rigorous way," and that "the Study tends to merge the practice and opinio juris requirements into a single test." Professor Yoram Dinstein was very critical of the Study. He wrote that "as regards international armed conflicts, the Study clearly suffers from an unrealistic desire to show that controversial provisions of API are declaratory of customary international law... By overreaching, I think that the Study has failed its primary mission."
In the ICRC’s view, IHL constitutes the lex specialis governing the assessment of the lawfulness of the use of force against lawful targets in international armed conflicts. The interplay of IHL rules and international human rights standards on the use of force is less clear in NIAC, and the use of lethal force by States in NIAC requires a fact -specific analysis of the interplay between the relevant rules.
International Humanitarian Law: A Comprehensive Introduction - ref. 4231-ebook
That, plus its distinctive format – combining “In a nutshell”, “To go further” and thematic textboxes – make it the ideal everyday companion for anyone approaching IHL for the first time and curious about conflict-related matters, as well as for military and humanitarian personnel seeking useful guidance on a vast array of topics.