International Humanitarian Law

Introduction

International Humanitarian Law - Research Guide International Law

International Humanitarian Law, also known as the Laws of War or Law of Armed Conflict is the part of public international law that regulates international and non-international armed conflict. International Humanitarian Law consists of the rules applicable during the conflict. These rules also apply to a situation of occupation arising from armed conflict. The International Humanitarian Law rules can be found in both treaties and international customary law. The main objective of these rules is to provide protection to the civilian population and civilian objects as well as to those persons who are no longer taking part in the hostilities. In addition, International Humanitarian Law rules aim to restrict the methods and means of warfare used during the hostilities by the parties involved. The International Committee of the Red Cross, a non-governmental humanitarian organization with its headquarter in Geneva, is the primary institution for International Humanitarian Law. Established in 1863, the initiatives of the ICRC have greatly contributed to the development of international humanitarian law. The ICRC also monitors the implementation of International Humanitarian Law rules and norms.

This Guide is intended as a starting point for research on International Humanitarian Law. It provides a selection of the legal materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format. Manuals, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Bibliography section. There are also links to the PPL Catalogue inserted. The Library’s systematic index code, i.e., 211  and keyword International Humanitarian Law are instrumental for searching through the Catalogue. Special attention is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, the Research Guide features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest.

The International Humanitarian Law Research Guide of the Peace Palace Library is updated regularly in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Library in Geneva.

Online publications released during November/December 2014

Rabkin, J., “Anglo-American Dissent from the European Law of War: A History with Contemporary Echoes” (December 2014). San Diego International Law Journal, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 1-72, 2014; George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 14-68.
Abstract: Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions (1977) lays down the ‘basic rule’ that attacks must not be directed at ‘civilian objects’ any more than at ‘civilians.’ Red Cross commentators and others assert that the law of war has embraced this ‘rule’ for many centuries. In fact, the leading commentators in Britain and …

Hart, Naomi (et al.), “Making Every Life Count: Ensuring Equality and Protection for Persons with Disabilities in Armed Conflicts” (December 2014). Monash University Law Review, Vol. 40, No. 1, pp. 148-174, 2014; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 14/106.
Abstract: Unusually among human rights conventions, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) explicitly invokes international humanitarian law as a source of states’ obligations. This paper focuses on one type of emergency situation, armed conflict. It argues that the CRPD reorients and transforms the …

Martin, Craig, “A Means-Methods Paradox and the Legality of Drone Strikes in Armed Conflict” (December 2014). International Journal of Human Rights, Vol. 19, 2015, Forthcoming.
Abstract: This article examines the legality of drone strikes. It limits the analysis to conduct within a traditionally defined armed conflict, in order to focus more clearly on the question of whether features inherent to the drone as a weapons system might make it conducive to violations of international law.

Crootof, Rebecca, “The Killer Robots Are Here: Legal and Policy Implications” (December 2014). Cardozo Law Review, Vol. 36, 2015, Forthcoming.
Abstract: In little over a year, the possibility of a complete ban on autonomous weapon systems — known colloquially as “killer robots” — has evolved from a proposal in an NGO report to the subject of an international meeting with representatives from over eighty states. However, no one has yet put forward …

Müller, Vincent C., and Thomas W. Simpson. “Autonomous Killer Robots are Probably Good News” (November 2014). Forthcoming in E. Di Nucci & F. Santoni de Sio (eds.), Drones and Responsibility: Legal, Philosophical and Socio-Technical Perspectives on the Use of Remotely Controlled Weapons, London, Ashgate.
Abstract: Will future lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS), or ‘killer robots’, be a threat to humanity? In this policy paper, we argue that they do not take responsibility away from humans; in fact they increase the ability to hold humans accountable for war crimes – though their distribution and use must be regulated …

Bibliography

Reference works

Books

Articles

Documents

Periodicals, serial publications

Bibliographies

New titles

Updated every Friday morning.

The Peace Palace Library has a collection of over a million publications. Each week, about six hundred new titles are added to our collection: books, articles, documents, online publications, etc. On this page, access is provided to this week’s new titles on International Humanitarian Law.


1. Conflictos armados
Conflictos armados : de la vulneración de los derechos humanos a las sanciones del derecho internacional / Consuelo Ramón Chornet (coordinadora). - Valencia : Tirant lo Blanch, 2014. - 301 pages. ; 22 cm. - (Derechos humanos ; 23) Includes bibliographical references. - 2014
Keywords: Armed conflicts, International humanitarian law, Genocide, War crimes, International law and domestic law, Responsibility to protect,

2. Le patrimoine culturel, cible des conflits armés
Le patrimoine culturel, cible des conflits armés : prolégomènes / par Vincent Négri. - Bruxelles : Bruylant. - Page VII-XVIII In: Le patrimoine culturel, cible des conflis armés : de la guerre civile espagnole aux guerres du 21e siècle / sous la direction de Vincent Négri, ISBN 9782802738138: (2014), Page VII-XVIII. - 2014
Keywords: Armed conflicts, Cultural property, Cultural heritage, International criminal law, International humanitarian law,

3. The Notions of Responsibility to Protect and the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict: Detecting Their Association and Its Impact Upon International Law
The Notions of Responsibility to Protect and the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict: Detecting Their Association and Its Impact Upon International Law / Raphaël van Steenberghe In: Goettingen Journal of International Law = ISSN 1868-1581: vol. 6, issue 1, page 81-114. - 2014
Keywords: Responsibility to protect, Protection of civilian persons, Humanitarian intervention, International humanitarian law,

4. Cyber Wars
Cyber Wars : applying Conventional Laws of War to Cyber Warfare and Non-State Actors / Shaun Roberts In: Northern Kentucky Law Review = ISSN 0198-8549: vol. 41, issue 3, page 525-572. - 2014
Keywords: Cyberspace, Cyberwarfare, Use of force, International humanitarian law,

5. Los campos de detención de la base naval de Guantánamo: aspectos de derecho internacional humanitario
Los campos de detención de la base naval de Guantánamo: aspectos de derecho internacional humanitario / Mireya Castillo Daudí. - Valencia : Tirant lo Blanch. - Page 61-87 In: Conflictos armados: de la vulneración de los derechos humanos a las sanciones del derecho internacional / Consuelo Ramón Chornet (coordinadora), ISBN 9788490530894: (2014), Page 61-87. - 2014
Keywords: United States of America, Guantanamo Bay, Detention, Terrorism, Legal status, International humanitarian law,

6. El derecho internacional humanitario desde la perspectiva de género: argumentos y propuestas para el debate contemporáneo
El derecho internacional humanitario desde la perspectiva de género: argumentos y propuestas para el debate contemporáneo / Raquel Vañó Vicedo. - Valencia : Tirant lo Blanch. - Page 269-301 In: Conflictos armados: de la vulneración de los derechos humanos a las sanciones del derecho internacional / Consuelo Ramón Chornet (coordinadora), ISBN 9788490530894: (2014), Page 269-301. - 2014
Keywords: Armed conflicts, Gender, Women, International humanitarian law, International criminal tribunals, Human rights,

7. Beyond Process: the Material Framework for Detention and the Particularities of Non-International Armed Conflict
Beyond Process: the Material Framework for Detention and the Particularities of Non-International Armed Conflict / Ramin Mahnad In: Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law = ISSN 1389-1359: vol. 16 (2013), page 33-51. - 2013
Keywords: Armed conflicts, Non-international armed conflicts, Deprivation of liberty, Detention, International humanitarian law, Human rights,

8. The Practices of Apartheid as a War Crime
The Practices of Apartheid as a War Crime : a Critical Analysis / Paul Eden In: Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law = ISSN 1389-1359: vol. 16 (2013), page 89-117. - 2013
Keywords: International Criminal Court, Rome Statute (Rome, 17 July 1998), Apartheid, International crimes, Nullem crimen, nulla poena sine praevia lege poenali, International criminal law, Customary international law, International humanitarian law,

9. A Critical Discussion of the Second Turkel Report and How It Engages with the Duty to Investigate Under International Law
A Critical Discussion of the Second Turkel Report and How It Engages with the Duty to Investigate Under International Law / Michelle Lesh In: Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law = ISSN 1389-1359: vol. 16 (2013), page 119-145. - 2013
Keywords: Israel, International obligations, Investigation, War crimes, Accountability, International humanitarian law, Human rights,

10. Boundaries of the Battlefield
Boundaries of the Battlefield : a Critical Look at the Legal Paradigms and Rules in Countering Terrorism / Jessica Dorsey, Christophe Paulussen In: Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law = ISSN 1389-1359: vol. 16 (2013), page 219-250. - 2013
Keywords: Terrorism, Prevention, Armed conflicts, Self-defence, International humanitarian law, Human rights, Law enforcement, Unmanned vehicles,

11. Some Thoughts on the Relationship Between International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law: a Plea for Mutual Respect and a Common-Sense Approach
Some Thoughts on the Relationship Between International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law: a Plea for Mutual Respect and a Common-Sense Approach / Terry D. Gill In: Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law = ISSN 1389-1359: vol. 16 (2013), page 251-266. - 2013
Keywords: International humanitarian law, Human rights,

12. Counter-Terrorism and International Law Since 9/11, Including in the EU-US Context
Counter-Terrorism and International Law Since 9/11, Including in the EU-US Context / Gilles De Kerckhove, Christiane Höhn In: Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law = ISSN 1389-1359: vol. 16 (2013), page 267-295. - 2013
Keywords: United States of America, European Union, Terrorism, Prevention, Judicial assistance, Law enforcement, International humanitarian law, Human rights,

13. Debates and Dichotomies: Exploring the Presumptions Underlying Contentions About the Geography of Armed Conflict
Debates and Dichotomies: Exploring the Presumptions Underlying Contentions About the Geography of Armed Conflict / Laurie R. Blank In: Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law = ISSN 1389-1359: vol. 16 (2013), page 297-318. - 2013
Keywords: Armed conflicts, Geography, Targeted killings, Use of force, International humanitarian law, Rules of Engagement,

14. Crossing Borders to Target Al-Qaeda and Its Affiliates: Defining Networks as Organized Armed Groups in Non-International Armed Conflicts
Crossing Borders to Target Al-Qaeda and Its Affiliates: Defining Networks as Organized Armed Groups in Non-International Armed Conflicts / Peter Margulies, Matthew Sinnot In: Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law = ISSN 1389-1359: vol. 16 (2013), page 319-345. - 2013
Keywords: International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Al-Qaida, Non-international armed conflicts, Terrorism, Concept, International humanitarian law, Case-law,

15. The Copenhagen Process: Principles and Guidelines
The Copenhagen Process: Principles and Guidelines / Jacques Hartmann In: Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law = ISSN 1389-1359: vol. 16 (2013), page 3-32. - 2013
Keywords: Armed conflicts, Non-international armed conflicts, Intervention, Detention, Guidelines, International humanitarian law, Human rights,

16. Responsabilité de protéger et protection des civils dans les conflits armés
Responsabilité de protéger et protection des civils dans les conflits armés : un rapprochement au détriment du droit international humanitaire? / Raphaël van Steenberghe In: Revue québécoise de droit international = ISSN 0828-9999: vol. 26, issue 2, page 129-162. - 2013
Keywords: Armed conflicts, Protection of civilian persons, International humanitarian law, Responsibility to protect,

17. Autonomous Attack
Autonomous Attack : Opportunity or Spectre? / Bill Boothby In: Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law = ISSN 1389-1359: vol. 16 (2013), page 71-88. - 2013
Keywords: Autonomous weapon systems, Targeted killings, Combatants and non-combatants, Precautionary principle, International humanitarian law,

Librarian's choice

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  • Mehring, S., First Do No Harm: Medical Ethics in International Humanitarian Law, Leiden, Brill Nijhoff, 2014.

    Mehring, S., First Do No Harm: Medical Ethics in International Humanitarian Law, Leiden, Brill Nijhoff, 2014.

    Although working on the sidelines of armed conflicts, physicians are often at the centre of attention. First Do No harm: Medical Ethics in International Humanitarian Law was born from the occasionally controversial role of physicians in recent armed conflicts and the legal and ethical rules that frame their actions. While international humanitarian, human rights and criminal law provide a framework of rights and obligations that bind physicians in armed conflicts, the reference to ‘medical ethics’ in the laws of armed conflict adds an extra-legal layer. In analysing both the legal and the ethical framework for physicians in armed conflict, the book is invaluable to practitioners and legal scholars alike.

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  • Dinstein, Y., Non-International Armed Conflicts in International Law, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2014.

    Dinstein, Y., Non-International Armed Conflicts in International Law, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2014.

    This dispassionate analysis of the legal implications of non-international armed conflicts explores the rules regulating the conduct of internal hostilities, as well as the consequences of intervention by foreign States, the role of the Security Council, the effects of recognition, State responsibility for wrongdoing by both Governments and insurgents, the interface with the law of human rights and the notion of war crimes. The author addresses both conceptual and specific issues, such as the complexities of ‘failing’ States or the recruitment and use of child soldiers. He makes use of the extensive case law of international courts and tribunals, in order to identify and set out customary international law. Much attention is also given to the contents of available treaty texts (primarily, the Geneva Conventions, Additional Protocol II and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court): what they contain and what they omit.

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  • Barrat, C., Status of NGOs in International Humanitarian Law, Leiden, Brill Nijhoff, 2014.

    Barrat, C., Status of NGOs in International Humanitarian Law, Leiden, Brill Nijhoff, 2014.

    In Status of NGOs in International Humanitarian Law, Claudie Barrat examines the legal framework applicable to NGOs in situations of armed conflict.  The author convincingly demonstrates, contrary to convention, that in addition to the ICRC, the National Societies and the IFRC, numerous other NGOs referenced in humanitarian law treaties have a legal status in IHL and therefore legitimate claim to employ IHL provisions to respond to current challenges.  On the basis of clear and thorough definitions of these entities, Barrat argues that existing NGOs meeting stringent definition can benefit from customary rights and obligations in both international and non-international armed conflict

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  • Weill, S., The Role of National Courts in Applying International Humanitarian Law, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014.

    Weill, S., The Role of National Courts in Applying International Humanitarian Law, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014.

    International law is routinely applied in domestic courts. This can result in situations where the courts are being asked to rule on politically sensitive issues, especially issues which involve humanitarian actions. Domestic courts do not show a uniformity of approach in addressing cases concerning international humanitarian law, and can often be seen to differ markedly in their response. The book argues that different national courts demonstrate different functional roles in different countries. These can be situated on a scale from apology to utopia, which can be set out as follows: firstly, the apologist role of courts, in which they serve as a legitimating agency of the state’s actions; secondly, the avoiding role of courts, in which they, for policy considerations, avoid exercising jurisdiction over a case; thirdly, the deferral role of courts, in which courts defer back to the other branches of the government the responsibility of finding an appropriate remedy; fourthly, the normative application role of courts, in which they apply international humanitarian law as required by the rule of law; and, finally, the utopian role of courts, in which they introduce moral judgments in favour of the protection of the individual, beyond the requirements of the law. The book investigates the rulings of five key domestic courts, those of the UK, the USA, Canada, Italy, and Israel, to understand how their approaches differ, and where their practice can be placed on the methological scale. This analysis has been assisted by field work, notably in the Israeli military courts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

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  • Nasu, H., and R. McLaughlin (eds.), New Technologies and the Law of Armed Conflict, The Hague, T.M.C. Asser Press, 2014. Showcase item

    Nasu, H., and R. McLaughlin (eds.), New Technologies and the Law of Armed Conflict, The Hague, T.M.C. Asser Press, 2014.

    Modern technological development has been both rapid and fundamentally transformative of the means and methods of warfare, and of the broader environment in which warfare is conducted. In many cases, technological development has been stimulated by, and dedicated to, addressing military requirements. On other occasions, technological developments outside the military sphere affect or inform the conduct of warfare and military expectations. The introduction of new technologies such as information technology, space technologies, nanotechnology and robotic technologies into our civil life, and into warfare, is expected to influence the application and interpretation of the existing rules of the law of armed conflict. In this book, scholars and practitioners working in the fields critically examine the potential legal challenges arising from the use of new technologies and future directions of legal development in light of the specific characteristics and challenges each technology presents with regard to foreseeable humanitarian impacts upon the battlespace.

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  • Clapham, A., and P. Gaeta (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of International Law in Armed Conflict, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014.

    Clapham, A., and P. Gaeta (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of International Law in Armed Conflict, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014.

    This Oxford Handbook provides an authoritative overview of key topics related to the application of international law in armed conflict. The Handbook engages in a broad analysis of international humanitarian law, human rights law, refugee law, international criminal and environmental law, and the law on the use of force. The Handbook features 32 essays by leading scholars and practitioners with an emphasis on understanding key concepts and analysing emerging problems related to terrorism, new types of weapons, international criminal law, and the interaction between humanitarian law and human rights law

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Database

Blogs

  • Are There Limits To Warfare?

    Pro-Russian separatists marched captured Ukrainian soldiers through the streets of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk over the weekend. The march was a news event that got the attention of many, including international human rights activists, calling the march a violation of the Geneva Conventions’ rules on the treatment of prisoners of war (POWs). The Geneva Conventions are at the core of international humanitarian law and provide a detailed framework for the protection of prisoners of war during armed conflict.

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  • Hague Academy Model United Nations on Drone Warfare and International Law

    Directed energy weapons, drones, self targeting bullets, mobile tactical high energy lasers, military robots, spy weapons, weapons undetectable under an x-ray scan, remote controlled insect armies, self driving tanks, robotic mules, thermal camouflage, surveillance technologies and autonomous unmanned systems are some examples of the high tech weapons and military technology that are now used during warfare. The use of this state of the art military technology raises serious ethical and legal questions: (when) is the use of drones acceptable?

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  • 60th Anniversary of the UNESCO 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in the Event of an Armed Conflict

    The 1954 Convention is the basic international treaty formulating rules to protect cultural heritage during armed conflicts. It regulates the conduct of nations during war and military occupation in order to assure the protection of cultural sites, monuments and repositories, including museums, libraries and archives. A Round table meeting in the Peace Palace is organized on Monday, 12 May 2014.

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  • Crimes against Cultural Property in Mali

    In an earlier Peace Palace Library blog (Cultucide in Timbuktu: Shari’a and war crimes) Ingrid Kost wrote that the Islamist Group Ansar (Ed)dine (“Defenders of the Faith”) destroyed some of the age-old mausolea of Sufi Saints in Timbuktu, Mali. One of the major causes of destruction of cultural property (the illicit trading, stealing and looting of cultural property is not covered in this blog) over the ages has been armed conflict. Crimes against cultural property should therefore be addressed properly.

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  • Colombia: At Last Peace with the FARC?

    Columbia’s fourth attempt at peace with the Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) started formally last month in Oslo and will continue the 15th of November in Havana, Cuba. The earlier attempts- starting in 1984, 1990 and 1998- to end one of Latin America’s longest and bloodiest armed conflict all failed. Why would the outcome of the peace talks this time be different?

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  • The Legality of Drone Attacks

    According to a recent report by Stanford and New York Universities’ law schools (Living Under Drones), the current US drone strike policy is counterproductive, has injured and killed civilians and undermines respect for international law. This blog explores briefly both the ius ad bellum and ius in bello implications of drone attacks.

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  • The Body Counts : Civilian Casualties in War

    Throughout the post Cold War period there has been a widespread view that war and armed conflict have changed radically since the First World War to the point where some 80-90% of war victims are now civilians. Many modern wars have been accompanied by significant depopulations, along with destruction of infrastructure and resources.

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  • The International Criminal Court Delivers Judgment on Child Soldiers

    On Wednesday 14 March, Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) delivered it’s first verdict. In a unanimous decision three judges convicted Thomas Lubanga Dyilo of the war crimes of conscripting, enlisting, and using children under the age of 15 to participate actively in hostilities. With this judgment the ICC firmly establishes the use of children in armed conflict as an international crime and also focuses renewed attention on the many thousands of children still used in various other conflicts in the world.

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  • A Licence to Kill? The assassination of Osama Bin Laden: Has the USA gone too far in acting as a policeman or was the raid justified?

    Osama Bin Laden (OBL) is dead. He was killed by a special ops team from the United States of America (USA), “after a firefight.” After OBL had been assassinated, the special team of SEALS took the deceased body of the dangerous mastermind terrorist and several hard drives from the compound in Abbottabad. Bin laden had been hiding there with his family for several years without being noticed. When the Pentagon researched the hard drives, it appeared that OBL had been planning new attacks, at least on several US cities and also on European locations. Upon hearing this news so many have sighed with relief that the secret services of the USA found out about these planned attacks before they could actually take place. Obama, President of the USA stated that “justice had been done” by executing OBL. But “what kind of justice” The assassination also led to a lot of questions and criticism: Was the raid justified?

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  • Dresden 1945 : an Allied War Crime?

    Since 1945, the bombing of Dresden is considered by many as a violation of international law and as a crime against humanity, even though positive rules of international humanitarian law were absent at the time. The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, were among the first formal statements of the laws of war and war crimes in the nascent body of international law. However these conventions, adressing the codes of wartime conduct on land and at sea, were adopted before the rise of air power. Despite repeated diplomatic attempts (→ The Hague Rules of Air Warefare 1922/1923) to update international humanitarian law to include aerial warfare, it was not done before the outbreak of World War II. The absence of positive international humanitarian law does not mean that the laws of war did not cover aerial warfare, but there was no general agreement of how to interpret those laws.
    The aerial bombardment of Dresden does not only raise the question as to whether or not it was an Allied war crime, but it also makes a moral appeal to prevent total war against civilian populations. It’s memory is kept alive.

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  • “De bijdrage van Nederland aan de codificatie van het moderne humanitaire recht (1800-1914)”

    A legal historical study of the development of international humanitarian law in the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century in the Netherlands.Recently the Peace Palace Library received a gift from the children of D.J.H.N. den Beer Poortugael (Herman den Beer Poortugael). The gift, a book titled: “De bijdrage van Nederland aan de [...]

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  • New Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) to be signed on December 3, 2008

    Cluster Bomb Tour Bus takes on Eastern Europe

    On Wednesday, 1st October an eight-week campaign trail through Europe was launched to convince all governments to sign a groundbreaking treaty banning cluster bombs, in Oslo on December 3, 2008. Beginning in Belgrade, Serbia and ending at the signing ceremony in Norway, the Ban Bus will rally [...]

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  • Judgement of the ICTY Appeals Chamber in the 'Dubrovnik' Case

    On Thursday, 17 July, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) rendered its judgement [PDF document] on the appeals of both the Prosecution and the Defense against the conviction and sentence of the former Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) General Pavle Strugar (Case No. IT-01-42-A).

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