International Humanitarian Law: An overview

International humanitarian law, commonly known as armed conflict law or law of war, is designed to balance humanitarian and military needs. It puts war under the rule of law by limiting its effects and reducing human suffering.

The rules and regulations set out in international humanitarian law, usually through treaties and treaties, govern relations between countries. Laws are legal in the United States and must be obeyed in all situations.

Objectives of Humanitarian Law Striking a balance between Military Necessity and Humanitarian Considerations: The purpose of humanitarian law is not just to save lives, but to respect and respect everyone. Requirements for achieving military objectives require countries to comply with the rules and regulations established by aid legislation. The principle of equality and equality strengthens the objectives of international humanitarian law and strikes a balance between military needs and humanitarian considerations .

Principles of Humanitarian Law

  1. Principle of Distinction – The conflicting factions of the party must be able to distinguish between soldiers and civilians and ensure they are only on the old side.

  2. Principle of Necessityand Proportionality It means the ability of the conflicting parties to reduce the amount of force exerted to defeat the enemy must be demonstrated. There is no way to lose too many lives to achieve the goals set by the military.

  3. Principle of Humane Treatment – The humanitarian law requires all civilians to be treated with dignity and respect at all times. It also aims to prevent violence for the lives of civilians who do or do not participate in war.

  4. Principle of non-discrimination – The fundamental rights of every person shall be secured whether or not he is involved in the war.

  5. Preferential treatment to Women and ChildrenWomen and children are encouraged to respect and protect women and children from the effects of war. The law prohibits children under the age of 18 from participating in violence.

International Humanitarian Law – Its Origin.

The Battle of Solferino in 1859 and the next Geneva Treaty in 1864 created the International Committee of the Red Cross. On August 22, 1864, 12 countries signed the treaty. The agreement agreed to provide assistance in accelerating the supply of materials for health professionals to use. They also endorsed the special logo of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The Hague Agreement was drafted in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. He laid down the rules and regulations for waging war. The treaty, introduced by the Hague Peace Conferences in 1899 and 1907, restricted the use of bombs and weapons as chemical weapons and acknowledged the damage they caused. The establishment of the League of Nations in 1919 arose out of the need to enact international law on armed conflict.

The Hague Convention – The Geneva Conventions permanently suspend the fight against chemical weapons because they are expected to cause serious damage. The agreement entered into force on February 8, 1928.

The difference between the Geneva Convention and the Hague Convention is that the former refers to military care, the latter deals with civilian care and refers to clear rules of morality during the war .

Analysing a War

Broadly, there are two branches of analysing a war:

1. The reasons for fighting a war.

2. How a war is fought.

Types of Conflict under Humanitarian Law

Broadly, Humanitarian Law recognizes three types of armed conflict. They are as follows:

i) International armed conflict An international arms conflict is “any time a declaration of war or armed conflict that may take place between two or more parties, even if the nature of the conflict is not agreed upon, the treaty is partial or shall work in all matters of existence, even in the face of such domination. resistance and weapons” .

ii) Internationalized armed conflict – Internationalized Armed Conflict is a relatively new group under humanity. It refers to a situation where war broke out between two different factions that were fighting in it but were backed by two other countries.A similar conflict occurred in the Republic of Congo in 1998.

iii) Non-international armed conflict – According to Article 3 of the Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949, non-international conflicts are armed conflicts involving one or more armed groups. Depending on the situation, violence can occur between government forces and non-state armed groups, or only between these groups. Now that the Geneva Conventions have been ratified worldwide, the requirement that the conflict be "within the territory of the principal parties" has no doubt lost its importance. In essence, armed conflict between government forces and armed groups, or between such groups, must occur in the territory of the parties to the agreement.

Furthermore, two requirements are necessary for such situations to be classified as non international armed conflicts:

- The hostilities must reach a minimum level of intensity. This may be the case, for example, when the hostilities are of a collective character or when the government is obliged to use military force against the insurgents, instead of mere police forces.

- Non-governmental groups involved in the conflict must be considered as "parties to the conflict", meaning that they possess organized armed forces. This means for example that these forces have to be under a certain command structure and have the capacity to sustain military operations.

Applying Humanitarian Law

Humanitarian Law mandates the rules and regulations for protection to be provided under the following situations:

1. International Armed Conflict – Protection is given to the following persons:

● i) Land warfare – Wounded or sick military personnel and members of the armed forces’ medical services

● ii) Naval Warfare – wounded, sick or shipwrecked military personnel and members of the naval forces’ medical services;

● iii) Prisoners of war

● iv)Civilian population which including foreign civilians, civilians in territories which have been occupied, medical and religious personnel and civil defence units.

2. Non-International Armed Conflict – Apart from the armed forces, protection is given to the following persons:

● Wounded or sick fighters

● People deprived of their freedom as a result of the conflict.

● Civilian population.

● Medical and Religious Personne

What should be done to implement the law?

Measures should be taken to guarantee regard for worldwide helpful law. States have an commitment to show their standards to their military and the overall population. They should forestall infringement or rebuff them if these by and by happen.

In particular, they must enact laws to punish the most serious violations of the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocols, which are regarded as war crimes. The States must also pass laws protecting the Red Cross and Red Crescent emblems.

Measures have also been taken at an international level: tribunals have been created to punish acts committed in two recent conflicts (the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda). An international criminal court, with the responsibility of repressing inter alia war crimes, was created by the 1998 Rome Statute.

Whether as individuals or through governments and various organizations, we can all make an important contribution to compliance with international humanitarian law.


[1] Retrieved from ICRC Advisory Service – What is International Humanitarian law -



[4] Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977.

[5] Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II), 8 June 1977.


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