Practice Relating to Rule 3. Definition of Combatants
France’s LOAC Summary Note (1992) and LOAC Teaching Note (2000) provide that all members of the armed forces, other than medical and religious personnel, are combatants.
France’s LOAC Manual (2001) defines combatants with reference to Article 4(A) of the 1949 Geneva Convention III.
Under the heading “Guerrilla”, the manual restates, inter alia
, Article 4(A)(2) of the 1949 Geneva Convention III and provides: “Permitted to fight and to obtain the status of prisoner of war in the case of capture are resistance fighters, militias and volunteer corps who are not part of the regular army but who respond to the definition [therein].”
Under the heading “Resistance”, the manual restates Article 4(A)(2) of the 1949 Geneva Convention III and further provides:
Inherited from World War II, this term refers to activities carried out against occupation forces and inspired by guerrilla techniques. The “resistance fighters” have combatant status on condition they respect the provisions of Article 4 of the Geneva Convention III of 12 August 1949 relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, above. At the moment when they act, and whatever the circumstances, the members of a resistance movement must take all necessary measures to distinguish themselves clearly from the civilian population.