Understanding the legal bases for detention is important for those working in situations of armed conflict, even if they are not focusing on the issue in their work. However, while detention in international armed conflicts is regulated in detail under international humanitarian law (IHL), the situation in non-international armed conflicts (NIACs) is less clear.

Knowing the basics of this topic and its current state of discussion has become essential. The debate has been further intensified after the ruling on the 2014 Serdar Mohammed case against UK authorities regarding unlawful detention, in which IHL was considered neither authorizing nor regulating detention in NIACs. The issue becomes further complicated when dealing with internationalized NIACs as in Iraq or Afghanistan, where the application of international human rights law or domestic law by one state in the territory of another state has been questioned.

In this learning session, Professor Gabor Rona will provide PHAP members with an introduction to legal frameworks applicable to detention in armed conflict and the existing legal debate regarding detention in NIACs, followed by an opportunity for questions and answers.


Gabor Rona Gabor Rona is a Visiting Professor of Law at Cardozo Law School, where he teaches international law of armed conflict and human rights law. He previously served as the International Legal Director of Human Rights First, where he advised Human Rights First's programs on questions of international law and coordinated international human rights litigation. Before Human Rights First, Gabor Rona was a Legal Advisor in the Legal Division of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva. At the ICRC he focused on the application of international humanitarian and human rights law in the context of counter-terrorism policies and practices. He has also taught International Humanitarian Law, International Human Rights Law and International Criminal Law at the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France and at the University Centre for International Humanitarian Law in Geneva, Switzerland.

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Learning objectives

  • Understanding of the concepts related to detention in armed conflict, including security detention and derogation from human rights in war times.
  • Knowledge of legal provisions under IHL on detention in both international armed conflicts and NIACs.
  • Basic understanding of the applicability of international human rights law and domestic law for the regulation of detention in NIACs.
  • Awareness of the peculiarities in the context of internationalized NIACs.
  • Awareness of the main proposed options to overcome the legal gaps surrounding detention in NIACs.

Target audience and event access

This event is targeted to humanitarian practitioners in the PHAP membership, but is open to the public.

PHAP Credentialing Program

PHAP Credentialing Program

International Legal Frameworks for Humanitarian Action

This event will help you prepare for the PHAP Credentialing Program certification in International Legal Frameworks for Humanitarian Action.

The event will address some aspects of segments 2.3 and 3.4 of the certification assessment outline.

Read more about the PHAP Credentialing Program