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Humane Identification

The first precision of the principle of humanity reflects a legal effort to protect certain groups of people in armed conflict and to ensure they receive humane treatment. The laws of war have gradually but consistently defined a range of moral identities in armed conflict that confer distinct legal status and protection on people covered by these terms. These categories include the notions of non-combatant, civilian, refugee and internally displaced people (IDPs).32

  • • Non-combatant and civilian status—this group is legally defined by "taking no direct participation” in the hostilities of an armed conflict and confers a right to humanitarian protection and assistance.33
  • • Refugees—these are a particular civilian sub-group and are legally entitled to asylum if they have fled across an international border in fear of their lives. The principle of non-refoulement means they cannot be forced out of asylum against their will.34
  • • Internally displaced people (IDPs)—these are another civilian subgroup. They are people forced by armed conflict to flee within their own state. This category of person is increasingly recognized in the soft law of international relations. They are regarded as especially vulnerable because of displacement. They are often of particular humani?tarian concern, and specific forms of humanitarian support to them are recommended by states and international organizations.35
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