Legal Definition of lawful combatant
1 : a member of the armed forces of a party (as a nation) to a military conflict
2 : 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.
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