International humanitarian law
By 1602, the newly formed Dutch East India Company (VOC) was threatening Portugal’s monopoly over the Asian spice trade. In response, the Portuguese government designed an extensive campaign to drive out the Dutch from the East Indies. Outraged by the atrocities the Portuguese inflicted on the Dutch and their allies, Admiral Van Heemskerck – sailing in the Strait of Singapore – prepared to retaliate against the Portuguese. After spending months of looking for a Portuguese ship to capture, they at last found one on that morning of February 25, 1603. And not just any ship, but the treasure ship Santa Catarina. The ship and its cargo ended up as booty of war and were taken back to Europe. The incident of the Santa Catarina was most certainly not uncontroversial from a legal point of view …Read more
This month, The Netherlands Red Cross, has generously donated many books to help us expand our International Humanitarian Law collection. The Peace Palace Library would like to express its gratitude and appreciation to the staff members of the International Humanitarian Law Section of the Red Cross who made this possible.Read more
All armed conflicts are covered by the basic rules and principles of the laws of war, wherever the theatre of operations might be, land, sea or air. Although some treaty and customary law specifically refers to certain aspects of aerial warfare, no specific regulation of modern air warfare has yet been adopted. Nevertheless, it is clear that the general principles and rules of international humanitarian law apply. We have created a bibliographic overview on this topic intended as a starting point for your research.Read more
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The 1916 US Naval Act and its 1918 proposed expansion triggered a Naval Arms Race between it and it’s allied nations of Great Britain and Japan.Read more
Finally, the United States Government invited the principal naval powers to a conference to discuss the situation and end the Naval Arms Race.
A bold opening suggestion from the US government resulted in the scrapping and halting of most naval capital ships.
The Washington Naval Treaty signed on the 6th of February 1922
In recent years, a significant number of European nationals have travelled to Syria or Iraq to train and fight with terrorist groups such as the Islamic State (IS). This flow of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) has posed serious security concerns for Europe, in particular with regards to the threat posed by FTFs returning to Europe to carry out terrorist attacks. In this context, it appears that a number of States have resorted to targeted strikes against their citizens in Syria and Iraq.Read more
This book attempts to assess the history and on-going relevance of the 1899 and 1907 Hague peace conferences, the conventions they brought into being, the institutions they established and the precedents they set. The exact legacies of the two conferences remain unclear. On the one hand, diplomatic and military historians, who cast their gaze to 1914, traditionally dismiss the events of 1899 and 1907 as insignificant footnotes on the path to the First World War. On the other, experts in international law posit that The Hague’s foremost legacy lies in the manner in which the conferences progressed the law of war and the concept and application of international justice.Read more
Natural disasters like the hurricanes Irma and Jose took a deadly path through the Caribbean and Florida, causing widespread destruction. Over the last decade, major natural disasters, including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 hurricane Katrina, the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami, have focused world attention on the importance of having adequate national legal frameworks in place for disaster prevention and response. Legislation plays a crucial role in promoting and supporting disaster risk reduction as well as in guaranteeing the speed and effectiveness of disaster response. This blog explains in short the role and importance of international disaster response law.Read more
The Martens clause is named after the Russian diplomat and international law professor Fyodor Fyodorovich Martens (1845-1909), the Russian delegate at the The Hague Peace Conferences in 1899. The Martens clause came into existence as a diplomatic statement made by diplomat Martens who wanted to come up with a solution for a disagreement between large occupying forces and smaller states. Martens, who was of the opinion that international law should illuminate and set normative standards, created the clause to fill a legal vacuum and help alleviate the horrors of war. The clause serves as a reminder that an act is not just yet permissible when an act of war is not expressly prohibited by international law or customary law.Read more
4 April 2017 – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today said that he is “deeply disturbed” by reports of alleged use of chemical weapons in an airstrike in the Khan Shaykhun area of southern Idlib, Syria. In a statement from his spokesperson, the Secretary-General expressed heartfelt condolences to the victims of the incident and their families. He noted that the UN Security Council affirmed that the use of chemical weapons “constitutes a serious violation of international law” and runs counter to resolutions passed by the 15-member body.Read more