Combatant status: the concept of ‘continuous combat function’

The International Committee of the Red Cross introduces the concept of 'continuous combat function' to refer to a person taking on a role for an organised armed group in a non-international armed conflict to directly participate in hostilities.

Participation is not limited to one particular act, but is more similar to being a member, for example, of a national army, who may be the object of an attack at any time during conflict, even when they are not engaged in combat. Members of organised armed groups belonging to a party to the conflict lose protection against direct attack for the duration of their membership. Recorders who use categories and definitions found in International Humanitarian Law for their combat status categories emphasise that the categorisations they made did not prove or determine anything legally, and that they were not lawyers but were using the law as the most authoritative source on defining combat status.