1949: Four Geneva Conventions ( Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field (I), Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field (II), Treatment of Prisoners of War (III), Protection of civilian Persons in Time of War (IV).
1977: Two additional Protocols (Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (AP I), Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (AP II).
2005: Third additional Protocol (Adoption of an Additional Distinctive Emblem (APIII)
Definition of “armed conflict” for the purpose of IHL
Any military confrontation, however short, between the military forces or two or more States, or the bombardment of one State by another State, or the invasion of one State by another State, including occupation.
A protracted military confrontation between governmental forces and armed groups, or between two or more armed groups, taking place within the territory of a State.
Two branches of International Law: Complementary but applied differently
Int’l Humanitarian Law
Protects life/health/dignity of categories people (e.g. combatants or civilians, sick and wounded, prisoners of war) and there are special rules for each category.
4 Geneva Conventions and 3 additional protocols
Duty falls on the belligerents : States and non-state armed groups
Protection applies to situations of armed conflict
Permit no derogations, armed conflict is a public emergency
Humanitarian law tailored for war ( lex specialis )
Protect people who don’t / no longer take part in hostilities
Mainly enforced today through international criminal courts and national courts
Human Rights Law
Protects life/health/dignity of individuals, apply to all persons without distinction
Along with the UDHR there are 8 major international treaties, and hundreds of regional and national instruments
Duty Falls on States (and non-state actors?)
Protection applies at all times (war and peace)
Treaties can permit derogation: authorize the suspension of some rights for limited time in public emergencies
Protect persons primarily from their own governments
Is enforced through the United Nations, regional courts
murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
taking of hostages;
outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;
the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
Members of Armed Non State Actors can be held criminally responsible at the international level (ICTY; ICTR; ICC) for the commission of international crimes (war crimes; crimes against humanity; genocide, torture)
"Whenever any official, soldier, contractor or worker of the slave government is captured, these prisoners cannot be attacked or harmed.
On civilian casualties:
"Governors, district chiefs and line commanders and every member of the Mujahedeen must do their best to avoid civilian deaths, civilian injuries and damage to civilian property. Great care must be taken.
On suicide attacks:
"Suicide attacks should only be used on high and important targets. A brave son of Islam should not be used for lower and useless targets. The utmost effort should be made to avoid civilian casualties.“
On relations with the Afghan people:
"The Mujahideen have to behave well and show proper treatment to the nation, in order to bring the hearts of civilian muslims closer to them. The mujahideen must avoid discrimination based on tribal roots, language or their geographic background