International humanitarian law

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Concept.png International humanitarian law 

International humanitarian law (IHL), also referred to as the laws of armed conflict, is the law that regulates the conduct of war (jus in bello). IHL is a branch of international law that seeks to limit the effects of armed conflict by protecting persons who are not participating in hostilities and by restricting and regulating the means and methods of warfare available to combatants.[1]

International humanitarian law is inspired by considerations of humanity and the mitigation of human suffering. It comprises a set of rules, which is established by treaty or custom and that seeks to protect persons and property/objects that are or may be affected by armed conflict, and it limits the rights of parties to a conflict to use methods and means of warfare of their choice. Sources of international law include international agreements (the Geneva Conventions), customary international law, general principles of nations, and case law. It defines the conduct and responsibilities of belligerent nations, neutral nations, and individuals engaged in warfare, in relation to each other and to protected persons, usually meaning non-combatants. It is designed to balance humanitarian concerns and military necessity, and subjects warfare to the rule of law by limiting its destructive effect and alleviating human suffering. Serious violations of international humanitarian law are called war crimes.[2]

While IHL (jus in bello) concerns the rules and principles governing the conduct of warfare once armed conflict has begun, jus ad bellum pertains to the justification for resorting to war and includes the crime of aggression. Together the jus in bello and jus ad bellum comprise the two strands of the laws of war governing all aspects of international armed conflicts. The law is mandatory for nations bound by the appropriate treaties. There are also other customary unwritten rules of war, many of which were explored at the Nuremberg trials. IHL operates on a strict division between rules applicable in international armed conflict and internal armed conflict.

International humanitarian law is traditionally seen as distinct from international human rights law (IHRL) (which governs the conduct of a state towards its people), although the two branches of law are complementary and in some ways overlap.[3]


Related Document

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Document:US says Israel may have breached international law with American weapons in Gazacommentary11 May 2024Jonathan Cook"If that sounds like extreme linguistic, legal and moral gymnastics in defence of continuing US complicity in genocide, it's because that is exactly what it is."
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  1. The law of armed conflict : an operational approach. Corn, Geoffrey S. New York: Wolters Kluwer Law & Business. 2012. ISBN 9781454806905. OCLC 779607396.
  2. "The Geneva Conventions and their Commentaries"
  3. "International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law"
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