The paper offers the first comprehensive treatment of the applicability and regulation of belligerent reprisals in non-international armed conflicts. It introduces three approaches to the topic (‘extralegal’, ‘permissive’ and ‘restrictive’ approaches) which all enjoy some support among States and scholars. The paper shows that international humanitarian law (IHL) treaties, IHL customs and other legal sources do not make it possible to decide between these approaches, as they are either silent on the topic or allow for several interpretations. It is the assessment of extralegal considerations and of the general framework of IHL which allows us to conclude that belligerent reprisals are inapplicable in non-international armed conflicts (‘extralegal’ approach). Yet, there are signs indicating that a gradual shift toward the ‘restrictive’ approach could be under way. The paper cautions against a premature acceptance of this approach drawing attention to its limits.
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