Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Hors de combat Definition:

French: outside of combat. A civilian or a soldier who has relinquished or been extricated from combat status.

Related Terms: War

A term of military law and of international law referring to a soldier who have surrendered, or who has been so wounded as to not constitute a threat.

The status of hors de combat engages several legal responsibilities towards that solder such as 1977 amendments to the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War (Protocol I):

"41. A person who is recognized or who, in the circumstances, should be recognized to be hors de combat shall not be made the object of attack.

"A person is hors de combat if: he is in the power of an adverse Party; he clearly expresses an intention to surrender; or he has been rendered unconscious or is otherwise incapacitated by wounds or sickness, and therefore is incapable of defending himself."

Similarly, at §309 of Canada’s Law of Armed Conflict (2001) states:

“A combatant is hors de combat (out of combat) if that person: is in the power of an adverse party; clearly expresses an intention to surrender; or has been rendered unconscious or is otherwise incapacitated by wounds or sickness, and is therefore incapable of self defence, provided that in any of these cases the individual abstains from any hostile act and does not attempt to escape.

"A combatant who is recognized or who, in the circumstances, should be recognized to be hors de combat shall not be attacked."

REFERENCES:

  • Duhaime, Lloyd, Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War
  • National Defence, Canada, Law of Armed Conflict, B-GJ-005-104/FP-021, 2001-08-13
  • Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977.

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