Non-combatant

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Non-combatant is a term in the law of war describing civilians not engaged in combat, as well as (under Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions, adopted in June 1977) persons such as medical personnel and military chaplains who are regular soldiers but are protected because of their function as well as soldiers who are hors de combat ("outside the fight"); that is, sick, wounded, detained, or otherwise disabled.

Article 50 Protocol I defines a civilian is not a privileged combatant. Article 51 describes the protection that must be given to civilians (unless they are unprivileged combatants) and civilian populations. Chapter III of Protocol I regulates the targeting of civilian objects. Article 8(2)(b)(i) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court also prohibits attacks directed against civilians. Not all states have ratified Protocol I or the Rome Statute, but it is an accepted principle of international humanitarian law that the direct targeting of civilians is a breach of the customary laws of war and is binding on all belligerents.

Article 3 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that even where there is not a conflict of international character the parties must as a minimum adhere to minimal protections for noncombatants, and they shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, with the following prohibitions:

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