The Definition of a Civilian in Latin America and the United States
The term civilian refers to any person who is not a member of the armed forces. A civillian is not a military person, and the presence of non-civilians in the civilian population does not alter the civilian character of the group. A country’s civil law code protects the civilian population against any military operation. The use of civilian in civil law has led to a wide variety of laws, from international humanitarian law to international human rights laws.
The status of a civilian is ambiguous. While state armed forces are considered a type of civilian, the status of armed opposition groups is unclear. Colombia’s military manual defines a person as a civilian if they do not engage in hostilities. Most manuals define civilians negatively in relation to the armed forces and combatants, but remain silent about the status of armed opposition groups. In practice, however, most manuals define armed opposition groups as civilians.
In Colombia, for example, the military manual identifies armed opposition groups as civilians. Despite the definition in the military manual, practice is unclear. While the legal position is clear, the military classification of armed opposition groups as civilians is more ambiguous. The status of armed opposition groups is not outlined in the Colombian manual. It is unclear whether armed opposition organizations are considered civilians or not. They are not considered a member of the allied governing body and are not considered civilians.
In the United States, state armed forces and armed opposition groups are not considered civilians. Although there are some cases where a civilian is not a member of a military force, the legal definition of a civilian is vague. During war, civilians are regarded as civilians. They are able to engage in military operations without being deemed combatants. This is the norm for the United States. A war is not a civil conflict unless it is a declaration of war.
In Colombia, state armed forces are not regarded as civilians. The status of armed opposition groups is not clear in practice. According to the military manual, a civilian is anyone who does not participate in hostilities or fight. It is not necessary that armed opposition groups be considered a part of a conflict to be a civilian. It is the law of the land in which a person lives. The people who live in an armed community are called a “civilian.”
In Colombia, state armed forces are not considered civilians. In the US, armed opposition groups are also not considered to be civilians. The distinction between a civilian and a combatant in an armed conflict is murky in practice. In addition to referring to combatants and armed groups as civilians, a conflicting party may not consider a combatant a civilian. The distinction between the two is an important one in a civil war.