Under certain circumstances, persons and objects that are protected under international humanitarian law lose the protection conferred upon them. In such cases, they may become lawful military objectives.

Such a loss of protection can occur when persons protected against attack directly participate in hostilities, or when civilian objects are used for military purposes. In addition, if medical personnel commit or medical objects are used to commit acts harmful to the enemy, outside their humanitarian function, lose their special protection and may even be attacked if they directly participate in hostilities (persons) or turn into military objectives (objects).

See Status; Military objectives; Direct participation in hostilities; Loss of Status; Protected Persons;


for wounded, sick and shipwrecked or persons otherwise hors de combat, parachuting airmen in distress

for act of hostilities

    PI, 8(a)-(b)41 and 42

for civilians

When DPH: See Direct participation in hostilities

    PI, 51/3

    PII, 13/3

    CIHL, 6

for civilian objects

if military contribution

    PI, 52/2

for civil defence objects

    PI, 67/1

for cultural, spiritual objects

    HR, 27

    Hague Convention on Cultural Property, Arts. 4/211 and 19

for medical objects

for acts harmful to the enemy

    HR, 27

    GCI, 21 (see ICRC updated Commentary) and 35 (see ICRC updated Commentary)

    GCII, 34 (see ICRC updated Commentary)

    GCIV, 19

    PI, 13

    PII, 11/2

    CIHL, 28

other specially protected objects

    PI, 54/356/259/760/7