The Practical Guide to Humanitarian Law

« Calling things by the wrong name adds to the affliction of the world. » Albert Camus.

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Inviolability of Rights

Certain rights—namely, in the category of human rights—are inviolable. This means they may not be derogated at any time or infringed on in any way and must be fully respected and defended.

States may not, under any circumstance, adopt decisions that derogate from the most fundamental human rights (known as inalienable rights) or limit them. Any national law or other legal document that limits or suspends such rights would be invalid.

Human rights conventions enumerate the list of inalienable rights, non-derogable or non-renunciable rights, also known as jus cogens norms. ▸ Fundamental guaranteesInternational law

In times of conflict, international humanitarian law completes these provisions. It specifically establishes that the rights established for civilians in occupied territories are also inalienable (GCIV Art. 47). ▸ Occupied territory

International law establishes that these rights are inalienable, or non-renunciable, meaning that individuals may not renounce them, even voluntarily.

Fundamental guaranteesHuman rightsInalienability of rightsInternational law

For Additional Information: Fritzpatrick, Joan. Human Rights in Crisis: The International System for Protecting Rights during States of Emergency . Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994.

Olivier, Clémentine. “Human Rights between War and Peace.” In The Essential Guide to Human Rights , edited by C. van den Anker, 157 and following. London: Hodder, 2004.

Oraà, Jaime. Human Rights in States of Emergency in International Law . Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992.

Plattner, Denise. “International Humanitarian Law and Inalienable or Non-derogable Human Rights.” In Non-derogable Rights and States of Emergency , edited by D. Prémont, 349–63. Brussels: Bruylant, 1996.

Prémont, D., ed. Non-derogable Rights and States of Emergency . Brussels: Bruylant, 1996.

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