International humanitarian law, also referred to as the laws of war or laws of armed conflict, is a collection of rules with the fundamental purpose to alleviate human suffering in armed conflicts. It protects the persons who are not or no longer involved in the conflict and restricts the means and methods of warfare. There is a distinction within international humanitarian law (IHL) between those who are actually engaged in fighting, the combatants, and those who are not.
IHL is part of international law
International humanitarian law (IHL) is part of international law. International law is a combination of rules and customs governing the relations between states in different fields, such as the law of the sea, space law, trade law, territorial boundaries of states, and diplomatic relations. Therefore, basic knowledge of international law is necessary for the understanding of IHL.Read more about the principles of international law
IHL applies to armed conflict
International humanitarian law (IHL) applies to armed conflicts, whether they are international or internal armed conflicts. IHL does not apply in internal disturbances or tensions. Internal disturbances are riots, demonstrations, and isolated, sporadic acts of violence, that take place inside a territory of a state.Read more about when IHL applies
Where can you find IHL?
A major part of international humanitarian law (IHL) is found in the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 (I-IV GC) and the two additional protocols from 1977 (I-II AP). The four Geneva Conventions of 1949 are the core of IHL. The Geneva Conventions were adopted to limit the human suffering in times of armed conflict.