INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW

International humanitarian law is a set of legal laws that regulate the conduct of war. It seeks to protect the people who do not participate in the war and to limit the methods and the repercussions of war. International humanitarian law is a part of public international law. It is made up of a set of treaties, rules, principles and regulations. It also follows the customary war laws that regulate the conduct of participants of the war. Its main purpose is the proportionality between the military necessities of humanity and its humanitarian cause. The sources of international law are international agreements such as the Geneva Convention 1, 2, 3 & 4, protocol 1 and 2, and the Hague regulations. All these agreements aim to protect civilians, non-combatants and medical professionals who are not participants of war but are victims of war.


International law divides conflict into international armed conflict and non-international armed conflict. International armed conflict is strictly between two states only as stated in the article two of all Geneva Convention. The rules regarding combatant status, conduct regulations and methods of war are more conditioned for international armed conflict. Non-international armed conflict is defined in article 3 in all Geneva Convention. Any inclusion of a non-state actor makes the war a non-international conflict. IHL follows some basic rules that every country that had signed or ratified has to agree to. Non-combatants or the civilian population who are not participants of the war shall and must be protected at all times. Any prisoner of war must be protected from violence. It prohibits perfidy. Treatment of the wounded and the sick is done by medical groups or the Red Cross, any attack on medical personnel is considered as a war crime. There must be a clear difference between non-combatants and combatants. There should be special protection given to women, children and medical professionals. International humanitarian law also speaks about the prohibition on certain kind of weapons such as cluster weapons which harms all combatants and non-combatants. It also forbids the conscription of children under the age of 15 into armed forces. The use of protective emblems to attack other parties who are participants of the war is considered illegal.


Crimes such as genocide, attacking civilian population, ethnic cleansing and using child soldiers in war are considered as grave war crimes. Present trends in wars are likely to continue. International human rights bodies should make more stringent laws. Given that most human rights laws are governed by the state and its behaviour. The state must take strict actions against it. International humanitarian laws serve the purpose of keeping a balance of the necessity of war and humanitarian laws. It aims for war to occur without the loss of any non-combatants. Combatants who knowingly break the law are subjected to go under a tribunal for their crimes and these individuals are held accountable for the war crimes that they have committed. It is rightly said that only in total abandonment of human conflict will human rights prevail. The human capacity and to inflict suffering to one and other is inevitable in the history of mankind but when we can’t prevent it then we must regulate it and reduce the amount of suffering.

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