International humanitarian law


International humanitarian law is largely governed by the 1949 Geneva Conventions and nearly every state in the world has agreed to be bound by these conventions. The Geneva Conventions have since been developed and supplemented by further protocols and agreements. International humanitarian law attempts to limit the effect of armed conflict and it plays an important role in the protection of victims of wars.

International humanitarian law only applies to armed conflict and does not apply to internal tensions or isolated acts of violence. The law applies following the commencement of the armed conflict and applies equally to all parties regardless of who is at fault. The law covers many issues such as the use of biological weaponry, the use of land mines, the use of chemical weapons, the destruction of cultural property and the involvement of children in fighting. Many of the provisions of international humanitarian law are now considered customary law: this means that by their common usage all states have become bound by them.

The international law on armed conflict applies different rules to international and non-international armed conflict. If the conflict is contained within a state involving armed forces or dissidents, fewer rules will apply than if the conflict is between two states. It is worth noting that international humanitarian law protects only people who have never, or have ceased to take part in the fighting. Humanitarian law makes it illegal to kill or wound an enemy who surrenders or is unable to fight.

If you would like to obtain legal advice on international humanitarian law, Contact Law can put you in touch with a specialist international humanitarian law solicitor free of charge. So, if you have any questions or would like our help in finding international humanitarian law solicitors please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

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