lawful combatant


: a member of the armed forces of a party (as a nation) to a military conflict
: a member of a militia or other volunteer corps of a party to a military conflict that is i) commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates, ii) has a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance, iii) carries arms openly, and iv) conducts operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war compare enemy combatant

Note: The Third Geneva Convention sets out the characteristics of a lawful combatant. Under the Convention, a lawful combatant is entitled to status of prisoner of war and must be given all the rights guaranteed by that status.

Dictionary Entries Near lawful combatant

Cite this Entry

“Lawful combatant.” Legal Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jul. 2024.

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