International Humanitarian 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. Updated regularly in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Library in Geneva.
- Blank, L.R., and G.P. Noone, International Law and Armed Conflict: Fundamental Principles and Contemporary Challenges in the Law of War, New York, NY, Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, 2013.
- Bothe, M. (et al.), New rules for Victims of Armed Conflicts: Commentary on the Two 1977 Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 (2nd ed.), Leiden, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2013.
- Carey, J. (et al.) (eds.), International Humanitarian Law, Ardsley, NY, Transnational, 2003-2006.
- Clapham, A., and P. Gaeta (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of International Law in Armed Conflict, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014.
- Crawford, E. and Pert, A., International Humanitarian Law, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2015.
- Crowe, J., and K. Weston-Scheuber, Principles of International Humanitarian Law, Cheltenham, E. Elgar, 2013.
- David, E., Principes de droit des conflits armés (5th ed.), Bruxelles, Bruylant, 2012.
- Dinstein, Y., Non-International Armed Conflicts in International Law, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2014.
- Fleck, D. (ed.), The Handbook of International Humanitarian Law (3rd ed.) Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2013.
- Henckaerts, J.-M. and L. Doswald-Beck (eds.), Customary International Humanitarian Law (2 vols), Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2005.
- Kalshoven, F. and L. Zegveld , Constraints on the Waging of War: An Introduction to International Humanitarian Law (4th ed.), Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2011.
- Kolb, R., Advanced Introduction to International Humanitarian Law, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar, 2015.
- Rogers, A.P.V., Law on the Battlefield (3rd ed.), Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2012.
- Thürer, D., International Humanitarian Law: Theory, Practice, Context, The Hague, Hague Academy of International Law, 2011.
- White, N. D., Advanced Introduction to International Conflict and Security Law, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar, 2014.
- Wilmshurst, E. (ed.), International Law and the Classification of Conflicts, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012.
- Barrat, C., Status of NGOs in International Humanitarian Law, Leiden, Brill Nijhoff, 2014.
- Bergen, P. L. and Rothenberg, D. (ed.), Drone Wars: Transforming Conflict, Law and Policy, New York, Cambridge University Press, 2015.
- Bouchet-Saulnier, F., The Practical Guide to Humanitarian Law (3rd ed.), Lanham, MD, Rowman & Littlefield, 2013.
- Burri, N., Bravery or Bravado? : The Protection of News Providers in Armed Conflict, Leiden, Brill Nijhoff, 2015.
- Cameron, L., and V. Chetail, Privatizing War: Private Military and Security Companies under Public International Law, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2013.
- Cantor, D. J. and Durieux, J. (eds.), Refuge from Inhumanity? : War Refugees and International Humanitarian Law, Leiden, Brill Njhoff, 2014.
- Chamberlain, K., War and Cultural Heritage: An Analysis of the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its Two Protocols (2nd ed.), Crickadarn, Institute of Art and Law, 2013.
- Christiansen, S. M., Climate Conflicts – A Case of International Environmental and Humanitarian Law, Cham, Springer, 2016.
- Dinstein, Y., The Conduct of Hostilities Under the Law of International Armed Conflict (3rd ed.), Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2016.
- Ducheine, P. A. L. (et al.) (eds.), Targeting: The Challenges of Modern Warfare, The Hague, Asser Press, 2016.
- Garbett, C., The Concept of the Civilian: Legal Recognition, Adjudication and the Trials of International Criminal Justice, Abingdon, Routledge, 2015.
- Heintze, H.-J. and Thielbörger, P. (eds.), From Cold War to Cyber War: The Evolution of the International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict Over the Last 25 Years, Cham, Springer, 2016.
- Jachec-Neale, A., The Concept of Military Objectives in International Law and Practice, London, Routledge, 2015.
- Jinks, D. (et al.) (eds.), Applying International Humanitarian Law in Judicial and Quasi-Judicial Bodies: International and Domestic Aspects, The Hague, T.M.C. Asser Press, 2014.
- Kolb, R., and G. Gaggioli (eds.), Research Handbook on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Cheltenham, E. Elgar, 2013. [ToC]
- Lovell, D. W. (ed.), Investigating Operational Incidents in a Military Context: Law, Justice, Politics, Leiden, Brill Nijhoff, 2015.
- Mehring, S., First Do No Harm: Medical Ethics in International Humanitarian Law, Leiden, Brill Nijhoff, 2015.
- Moyakine, E. V., The Privatized Art of War: Private Military and Security Companies and State Responsibility for Their Unlawful Conduct in Conflict Areas, Cambridge, Intersentia, 2015.
- Nasu, H. and McLaughlin, R. (eds.), New Technologies and the Law of Armed Conflict, The Hague, T.M.C. Asser Press, 2014.
- Niebergall-Lackner, H., Status and Treatment of Deserters in International Armed Conflicts, Leiden, Brill Nijhoff, 2016.
- Petrovic, J. (ed.), Accountability of Violations of International Humanitarian Law: Essays in Honour of Tim McCormack, London, Routledge, 2016.
- Ohlin, J. D. (et al.) (eds.), Cyberwar: Law and Ethics for Virtual Conflicts, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2015.
- Schütte, R., Civilian Protection in Armed Conflicts: Evolution, Challenges and Implementation, Wiesbaden, Springer VS, 2015.
- Turner Johnson, J. and Patterson, E. D. (eds.), The Ashgate Research Companion to Military Ethics, Farnham, Ashgate, 2015.
- Waschefort, G., International Law and Child Soldiers, Oxford, Hart Publishing, 2015.
- Bieńczyk-Missala, A. and Grzebyk, P., “Safety and Protection of Humanitarian Workers”, in: P. Gibbons and H. Heintze, The Humanitarian Challenge: 20 Years European Network on Humanitarian Action (NOHA), Cham, Springer, 2015, pp. 221-252.
- Bosch, S., “Private Security Contractors and Neutral Relief Workers – An Unlikely Marriage?”, African Yearbook on International Humanitarian Law, (2013), pp. 163-195.
- Cohen, A., “The Principle of Proportionality and Procedures in International Humanitarian Law”, Justice, 56 (2015), pp. 20-25.
- Dew, A. and Carrick, D., “Military Medical Personnel: A Unique Responsibility to Protect”, in Whetham, D. and Strawser, B. J., Responsibilities to Protect: Perspectives in Theory and Practice, Leiden, Brill Nijhoff, 2015, pp. 116-136.
- Düsterhöft, I., “Is Journalism the New (Inter)National Battlefield? : An Analysis of the Protections Offered to Journalists in Armed Conflict”, Humanitäres Völkerrecht: Informationsscchriften, 27 (2014), No. 4, pp. 156-168.
- Foster, F., “The Price of News From the Front Line: Rethinking the Protection of Media Personnel under International Humanitarian Law”, Journal of Conflict & Security Law, 20 (2015), No. 3, pp. 451-480.
- Gill, T., “International Humanitarian Law applied to Cyber-Warfare: Precautions, Proportionality and the Notion of “Attack” under the Humanitarian Law of Armed Conflict”, in N. Tsagourias and R. Buchan (eds.), Research Handbook on International Law and Cyberspace, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2015, pp. 366-379.
- Greenwood, C., “The International Court of Justice and International Humanitarian Law”, in C. C. Jalloh and O. Elias (eds.), Shielding Humanity: Essays in International Law in Honour of Judge Abdul F. Koroma, Leiden, Brill Nijhoff, 2015, pp. 263-288.
- De Groof, M., “Death From the Sky: International Legal and Practical Issues on the Use of Armed Drones”, in A. Završnik (ed.), Drones and Unmanned Aerial Systems: Legal and Social Implications for Security and Surveillance, Cham, Springer, 2016, pp. 131-156.
- Hartmann, J., “The Copenhagen Process: Principles and Guidelines”, Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law, 16 (2013), pp. 3-32.
- Heintze, H.-J., "Theories on the Relationship between International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law", in R. Kolb and G. Gaggioli (eds.), Research Handbook on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2013, pp. 53-64.
- Heintze, H.-J. and Lülf, C., “Non-State Actors under International Humanitarian Law”, in M. Noortmann, A. Reinisch and C. Ryngaert (eds.), Non-State Actors in International Law, Oxford, Hart Publishing, 2015, pp. 97-111.
- Körtgen, Y., “Outsourcing War: Private Military and Security Companies under International Humanitarian Law”, in M. Cherif Bassiouni (ed.), Globalization and Its Impact on the Future of Human Rights and International Criminal Justice, Cambridge, Intersentia, 2015, pp. 253-279.
- Kraska, J., “Military Operations”, in: D. R. Rothwell (et al.) (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the Law of the Sea, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 866-887.
- Murray, D., “How International Humanitarian Law Treaties Bind Non-State Armed Groups”, Journal of Conflict & Security Law, 20 (2015), No. 1, pp. 101-131.
- Oswald, B., “The Harmonization Project: Improving Compliance with the Law of War in Non-International Armed Conflict”, Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, 53 (2014), No. 1, pp. 105-113.
- Pacholska, M., “(Il)legality of Killing Peacekeepers: The Crime of Attacking Peacekeepers in the Jurisprudence of International Criminal Tribunals”, Journal of International Criminal Justice, 13 (2015), No. 1, pp. 43-72.
- Rabkin, J., “Proportionality in Perspective: Historical Light on the Law of Armed Conflict”, San Diego International Law Journal, 16 (2015), No. 2, pp. 263-340.
- Sassòli, M. and Issar, Y., “Challenges to International Humanitarian Law”, in A. von Arnauld, N. Matz-Lück and K. Odendahl, 100 Years of Peace Through Law: Past and Future, Berlin, Duncker & Humblot, 2015, pp. 182-235.
- Scholdan, B., “'The End of Active Hostilities': The Obligation to Release Conflict Internees Under International Law”, Houston Journal of International Law, 38 (2016), No. 1, pp. 99-214.
- Thadani, K. and Ayyagari, R., “Law of Armed Conflict and the Environment”, Environmental Policy and Law, 45 (2015), No. 6, pp. 285-290.
- Turns, D., “Targets”, in N.D. White and C. Henderson (eds.), Research Handbook on International Conflict and Security Law : Jus ad Bellum, Jus in Bello, and Jus post Bellum, Cheltenham, Elgar, 2013, pp. 342-374.
- Van der Vyver, J. D., “The ISIS Crisis and the Development of International Humanitarian Law”, Emory International Law Review, 30 (2016), No. 4, pp. 531-563.
- Wagner, M., “The Dehumanization of International Humanitarian Law: Legal, Ethical, and Political Implications of Autonomous Weapon Systems”, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, 47 (2014), No. 5, pp. 1371-1424.
- Wills, S., “Ensuring Peacekeepers’ Respect for International Humanitarian Law”, in H. Krieger (ed.), Inducing Compliance With International Humanitarian Law: Lessons From the African Great Lakes Region, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2015, pp. 351-381.
- Doswald-Beck, L. (ed.), San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, Cambridge, Cambridge university Press, 1995.
- Dustin A. Lewis, Naz K. Modirzadeh, and Gabriella Blum, “Medical Care in Armed Conflict: International Humanitarian Law and State Responses to Terrorism”, Legal Briefing, Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict, September 2015.
- ICRC International Humanitarian Law - Treaties and Documents.
- ICRC Customary International Humanitarian Law.
- ICRC, Interpretive Guidance on the Notion of Direct Participation in Hostilities under International Humanitarian Law (N. Melzer ed., 2009).
- Grace, R., The Design and Planning of Monitoring, Reporting, and Fact-Finding Missions, Cambridge (MA): Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research Harvard University, December 2013.
- Heyns, C., Report of the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions on Lethal Autonomous Robotics (LARs), UN Doc. A/HRC/23/47, 9 April 2013.
- International Law Association (ILA) Study Group, The Conduct of Hostilities under International Humanitarian Law - Challenges of 21st Century Warfare, Report 2014.
- Kraehenmann, S., Foreign Fighters Under International Law, Geneva, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, 2014.
- Lieblich, E. and Alterman, O., Transnational Asymmetric Armed Conflict Under International Humanitarian Law: Key Contemporary Challenges, Ramat Aviv, Institute for National Security Studies, 2015.
- Melzer, N., Human Rights Implications of the Usage of Drones and Unmanned Robots in Warfare, European Parliament, 2013.
- Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research at Harvard University (HPCR), Manual on International Law Applicable to Air and Missile Warfare, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2013.
- Roberts, A., and R. Guelff (eds.), Documents on the Laws of War (3rd ed.), Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2000.
- De Rover, C., To Serve and To Protect: Human Rights and Humanitarian Law for Police and Security Forces, Geneva, International Committee of the Red Cross, 1998.
- Schindler, D., and J. Toman, The Laws of Armed Conflicts: A Collection of Conventions, Resolutions, and other Documents (4th ed.), Leiden, Nijhoff, 2004.
- Schmitt, M.N. (ed.), Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2013.
Periodicals, serial publications
- African Yearbook on International Humanitarian Law (Publication ceased in 2014)
- Humanitäres Völkerrecht: Informationsschriften: Table of Contents
- International Humanitarian Law Magazine: Table of Contents
- International Review of the Red Cross: Table of Contents
- ISIL Yearbook of International Humanitarian and Refugee Law (Publication ceased in 2011)
- Journal of Conflict & Security Law: Table of Contents
- Journal of International Humanitarian Legal Studies (Last Publication in 2015)
- Law Mantra Journal, 1 (2013), No. 4: Table of Contents
- The Military Law and the Law of War Review (Last Publication in 2014)
- Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law (Last Publication in 2013)
- Huynh Thi Huong, Bibliography of International Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflicts, Geneva : ICRC & Henry Dunant Institute, 1987.
- ICRC Resource Centre, Quarterly IHL Bibliography: 3rd quarter 2015.
- Thyssen, H., "Selected Bibliography on the Rules and Institutions of International Humanitarian Law Put to the Test of Recent Armed Conflicts", in Rules and Institutions of International Humanitarian Law Put to the Test of Recent Armed Conflicts, Leiden : Nĳhoff, 2010, pp. 901-981.
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. Who Can be Killed?: Legal Targets in Non-international Armed Conflicts
Keywords: Unmanned vehicles, Targeted killings, Non-international armed conflicts, Accountability, International humanitarian law,
2. Boundaries of the Battlefield: the Geographic Scope of the Laws of War
Keywords: Unmanned vehicles, Armed conflicts, Non-international armed conflicts, Laws of war, International humanitarian law,
3. Correcting the Record: Civilians, Proprotionality, and the "Jus ad Vim"
Keywords: Unmanned vehicles, Use of force, Proportionality, Civilian population, Just war, International humanitarian law,
4. From Just Ward to Clean War: the Impact of Modern Technology on Military Ethics
Keywords: Unmanned vehicles, Just war, Military technology, Ethics, Armed conflicts, International humanitarian law,
5. Systemic Efficacy: "Potentially Shattering Consequences for International Law"
Keywords: Unmanned vehicles, Targeted killings, Jus ad bellum, Human rights, International humanitarian law,
6. Can UCAVs be Reconciled with Liberal Governance?: the Substantive Law of a Drone Court
Keywords: Unmanned vehicles, Targeted killings, Judicial review, Rule of law, Legality, Human rights, International humanitarian law,
7. Singularity and the Art of Warfighters
Keywords: Geneva Conventions (1949), Militaries, Military art and science, Military technology, International humanitarian law,
Kolb, R., Advanced Introduction to International Humanitarian Law, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar, 2015View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
This innovative book provides a thought-provoking introduction to international humanitarian law (IHL). Robert Kolb explores the field through questions – which are at times challenging and controversial – in order to get to the very essence of the subject and give a fresh perspective. The result is an exposition both of the law as it stands, through its written and unwritten rules, and also of the uncertainties, gaps, controversies and practical problems which have arisen. IHL is revealed as a living tool, an ever-adapting means to an ever-remaining need of protection during times of armed conflict.
Burri, N., Bravery or Bravado?: The Protection of News Providers in Armed Conflict, Leiden, Brill Nijhoff, 2015View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
During the last decade, the image of war correspondents in the news has shifted dramatically. Reports are no longer full of cheerleading stories of embedded journalists. Instead, stories of war reporters being attacked, kidnapped or injured prevail. Sadly, the former heroic witnesses to war have become victims of their own story. In this book, Nina Burri provides the first comprehensive analysis on how international law protects professional and citizen journalists, photographers, cameramen and their support staff during times of war. Using examples from recent armed conflicts in Iraq, Libya, Gaza and Syria, Burri explores the means, methods and risks of contemporary war coverage and examines the protection of news providers by international humanitarian law, international criminal law and human rights law.
Turner Johnson, J., and E.D. Patterson (eds.), The Ashgate Research Companion to Military Ethics, Farnham, Ashgate, 2015View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
This Companion provides professionals who deal with military law and with international law on armed conflicts, with a comprehensive and authoritative state-of-the-art review of current research in the area of military ethics. Topics in this volume reflect both perennial and pressing contemporary issues in the ethics of the use of military force and are written by established professionals and respected commentators. Subjects are organized by three major perspectives on the use of military force: the decision whether to use military force in a given context, the matter of right conduct in the use of such force, and ethical responsibilities beyond the end of an armed conflict. Treatment of issues in each of these sections takes account of both present-day moral challenges and new approaches to these and the historical tradition of just war. Military ethics, as it has developed, has been a particularly Western concern and this volume reflects that reality. However, in a globalized world, awareness of similarities and differences between Western approaches and those of other major cultures is essential. For this reason the volume concludes with chapters on ethics and war in the Islamic, Chinese, and Indian traditions, with the aim of integrating reflection on these approaches into the broad consideration of military ethics provided by this volume
Mehring, S., First Do No Harm: Medical Ethics in International Humanitarian Law, Leiden, Brill Nijhoff, 2014View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
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.
Dinstein, Y., Non-International Armed Conflicts in International Law, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2014View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
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.
Barrat, C., Status of NGOs in International Humanitarian Law, Leiden, Brill Nijhoff, 2014.View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
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
- Customary Law Database, International Committee of the Red Cross
- Geneva Conventions Materials, Library of Congress, Military Legal Resources
- Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Brill E-book collection (Access through PPL)
- International Humanitarian Law Commons, Digital Commons Network
- Law of Armed Conflict Lecture Series, United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law
- The Laws of War Database, Avalon Project of the Yale Law School
- National Implementation of IHL Database, International Committee of the Red Cross
- Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts (RULAC) Project, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights
- Treaties, States Parties and Commentaries Database, International Committee of the Red Cross
War Crimes Investigations in the UK: All is Fair in Law and War?
While the last British troops left Iraq in 2011, national and international investigations into the UK military’s conduct in Iraq are still ongoing and continue to spark controversy. Civil lawsuits as well as criminal prosecutions could still be on the horizon for some British soldiers. Gerry Simpson described this continuous quest for justice and the backlash against its results as the human dilemma of “wanting justice and being ‘sick of giving it’”. This blog will examine the British involvement in Iraq and the alleged war crimes committed during their mission, and the efforts and initiatives undertaken to discover the truth and to seek justice.Read more
An Ad Hoc Hybrid Special Court for Sri Lanka: What Does It Take?
On 16 September 2015, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka issued two reports on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka. Their recommendation: the creation of an ad hoc hybrid special court to try war crimes and crimes against humanity. Which crimes were committed and how did the international community reach such a recommendation? This post will take a look at the civil war which plagued Sri Lanka for 25 years, the subsequent international response and finally, what does it take to create an ad hoc hybrid tribunal?Read more
More Legal Protection for Journalists?
On May first people around the world celebrate International Workers’ Day. Less known to the public are the festivities which take place Sunday, May third, in honor of World Press Freedom Day. On this date the international community celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom; to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.Read more
Drones Deployed during War raise Various Legal and Ethical Questions
Drones can be used for many different purposes. The use of drones raises various legal and ethical questions ranging from humanitarian to privacy issues. The Peace and Security Salon of 9 April discussed these questions in the context of the deployment of armed drones and robots during wartime. Three specialists each discussed the use of drones from a different background.Read more
Drones and Robots as Means of Modern Warfare
Several aspects of autonomous weapons systems and the deployment of drones during warfare will be discussed during the upcoming Peace and Security Salon: “Drones and Robots as means of modern warfare” which will be held at the Peace Palace Library on Thursday, the 9th of april. The use of drones as a weapons system has increased exponentially in recent years and this has given rise to a significant degree of controversy and a number of specific questions relating to their use. Questions which arise in relation to drones and autonomous weapons systems include whether they are in conformity with or potentially capable of complying with IHL requirements in conditions of contemporary warfare, issues of accountability and responsibility and ethical questions.Read more
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.Read more
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?Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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?Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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?Read more
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.Read more
“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 […]Read more
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 […]Read more
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).Read more
- Humanitarian Law, NYU Law Library (Last updated: February 8, 2016)
- International Humanitarian Law, American Society of International Law (Last updated: May 4, 2015)
- International Humanitarian Law, Berkeley School of Law Library (Last updated: October 29, 2015)
- International Humanitarian Law, FSU College of Law
- International Humanitarian Law, University of Iowa Law Library (Last updated: January 7, 2016)
- International Humanitarian Law, University of Melbourne (Last updated: February 24, 2016)
- International Humanitarian Law, University of Ottawa Library
- International Humanitarian Law: Legal Aspects of War, Heafy Law Library (Last updated: December 6, 2015)
- Program on International Law and Armed Conflict, Harvard Law School Library (Last updated: February 11, 2016)
Research and Academia
- Forum for International Criminal and Humanitarian Law (FICHL)
- Frederick K. Cox International Law Center War Crimes Research Portal
- Harvard Law Library Research Guide on International Humanitarian Law
- International Committee of the Red Cross, War and International Humanitarian Law
- International Humanitarian Law
- Preparatory documents on Geneva Conventions
- International Humanitarian Law Research Initiative
- International Institute of Humanitarian Law
- International Law Association Study Group: The Conduct of Hostilities under International Humanitarian Law - Challenges of 21st Century Warfare
- Resource Guide on Legal Protection of Cultural Property
- Rule of Law in Armed Conflict Project
- T.M.C. Asser Institute, International Humanitarian Law
- United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Protecting the Environment During Armed Conflict
More Research guides on War, Peace and Security
- International Peace and Security
- Use of Force
- War and Peace
- World War I
- World War II
Hashtag for this research guide: #rgihl
Map with locations of use of this guide
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