When States cannot or are not willing to settle their disputes by resorting to peaceful means, weapons are instantaneously brought into play. Wars, as a matter of course, result in immeasurable and immense sufferings among civilians and drastic damages to nature as well as objects.
International Humanitarian Law (IHL), as a branch of Public International Law, is a set of rules that seek to limit the effects of armed conflicts by protecting persons who are not participating in hostilities and also by restricting and regulating the means and methods of warfare. IHL is sometimes referred to either as “the law of armed conflict” or simply “the law of war” (jus in bello). Armed conflicts can be of an international or non‑international character.
A major part of international humanitarian law is contained in the four Geneva Conventions of 1949:
(1) the Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field,
(2) the Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded, Sick, and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea,
(3) the Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, and
(4) the Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.
Nearly every State in the world has agreed to be bound by those conventions. The Conventions have been developed and supplemented by two further agreements: The Additional Protocols of 1977 relating to the protection of victims of armed conflicts:
- 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
- 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
To be continued
By: Dr. Parastou Esmailzadeh
Attorney at Law, PhD in International Law, Head of International Trade Law Department