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WHAT IS 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. International humanitarian law (IHL) is part of international law. Therefore, basic
knowledge of international law is necessary for the understanding of IHL.
The sources of international law are treaty law and international customary law.
TREATY LAW
Treaty law composes of treaties, which are agreements that states willingly sign and ratify and are
obliged to follow. Agreements between states govern the mutual relations between them and may
be called conventions, statutes or protocols. Agreements are only legally binding on states that
signed and also ratified them. The basis of Treaty law is the rule of law ‘pacta sunt servanda’,
which means, that agreements must be honored, and adhered to.
INTERNATIONAL CUSTOMARY LAW
Unlike treaty law, which must be followed only by states that are parties to the agreement,
international customary law is binding upon all states, irrelevant of whether they have ratified a
treaty, which contain the rule in question, or not.
When states act consistently in their international and internal relations during a long period of time,
these actions/practices become accepted by the international community as applicable law.
International customary law is comprised of all the written or unwritten rules that form part of the general
international idea of justice.
TWO CRITERIA
There are two criteria for identifying a rule as part of international customary law.
Opinio Juris Sive Necessitatis- is the expressed opinion of states that their actions have a legal
basis. It is thus states themselves (subjective criteria) that recognise certain legal practices or
rules as being legally binding.
Usus - Customary law is confirmed through the actions of states (objective criteria) in accordance
with what is expected of them by international jurisprudence. States' actions are manifested
through their official statements and actual actions.
International customary law is based on prolonged and consistent actions by most states in the world.
When states act consistently in their international and internal relations during a long period of time
these actions/practices become accepted by the international community as applicable law.
Examples of international customary law are the right to life, the prohibition of torture, and that civilians
should not be the object of an attack.
JUS COGENS
Some rules of international law are part of the Latin concept of "jus cogens", also referred to as
peremptory norms, and meaning "the compelling law". Jus cogens status is the highest status that can
be attained by any principles or norms in international law.
Jus cogens status is given only to the most fundamental rules of international law, which are recognized
and accepted by the international community as rules from which no exceptions can be made (article
53 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties). All states are therefore obliged to follow jus cogens

LIMITATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS In certain cases. such as genocide. each action needs to be examined under IHL. The derogation must be proportional and must not be introduced on a discriminatory basis. Contrary to a derogation the right is not taken away but continues to be valid. There is a close relationship between international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law. Crimes which have attained the status of jus cogens are particularly outrageous crimes. ● situations in which only human rights law applies. A derogation from a right means that the right is not activated for a certain period of time. WHAT IS INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW? International human rights law is part of international law. for example during armed conflict. The right to life. It concluded that by dealing with a situation of armed conflict. IHL covers the conduct of military operation by stating which weapons and military tactics can be used in armed conflict. An example of a right that can be derogated from under times of emergency is the right to peaceful assembly. Examples of rights which can be limited are the right to freedom of expression and the freedom of association. even if it is outside its borders. APPLICABILITY International human rights law is applicable to the territory of a state but also extends to any territory which is under its effective jurisdiction. the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right to health and housing are examples of human rights. slavery and torture. Fundamental human rights. WEAPONS THAT CAUSE SUPERFLUOUS INJURY OR UNNECESSARY SUFFERING . THE RELATION TO INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW The International Court of Justice in its Advisory Opinion on the Wall from July 2004 considered the inter-relation between the two bodies of law – international humanitarian law and human rights law. which are seen as affecting the international community as a whole. human rights law or both together depending on the circumstances. Therefore. which is applicable both in times of armed conflict and in times of peace. ● and situations where the legality of the actions needs to be examined under both branches of law. IHL is a specific law (lex specialis) compared to human rights law.rules at all times. It elaborated three possible inter-relations between the two bodies of law: ● situations in which only IHL applies. such as the right to life and the prohibition on torture and slavery. International human rights law codifies human rights in various international treaties. in a limited manner. can never be derogated from or limited. WHAT MEANS AND METHODS OF WARFARE CAN ONE USE? International humanitarian law (IHL) limits the means and methods of warfare. however. The only legitimate object during war is to weaken the military forces of the enemy. Certain human rights can be limited but only if such limitations are provided for by law and necessary for the protection of national security or public safety etc. a state can derogate from (temporarily depart from) some of their obligations and thus limit their human rights obligations. such as in times of public emergency which threaten the life of the nation.

The question is a matter of facts.. undetectable fragments (weapons with the effect to injure by fragments that are nondetectable by x-ray). and stock-piling of biological and chemical weapons. conventions were adopted to prohibit the use. The occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised. is the measure taken a sufficient and effective response to the existing threat? ● Fourthly. i. BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL WEAPONS The use of biological and chemical weapons is prohibited by the 1925 Geneva Protocol. MILITARY NECESSITY Military necessity is an exception to a prohibition in international humanitarian law (IHL).e. OCCUPATION IS ONLY TEMPORARY. These treaties are binding on states that have signed and ratified them. OCCUPATION DOES NOT GIVE THE OCCUPYING POWER SOVEREIGNTY OVER THE TERRITORY. are the military forces facing an actual state of necessity. the law of occupation applies – motives for the presence of the foreign military forces are irrelevant. and what is meant by the term collateral damage. It does not make a difference whether an occupation has received UN Security Council approval or what its aim is for the applicability of the law of occupation. According to the Harvard based "Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research" (HPCR) there are five tests to verify the proper use of military necessity: ● Firstly you have to ask if the measure will violate an absolute prohibition in IHL? The right to take a measure under military necessity has to be stated in the law. blinding laser weapons. The Protocol is considered custumary international law and is therefore binding on all states regardless of whether they signed it or not. OCCUPATION OR AN OCCUPIED TERRITORY – WHAT IS IT? A “. In 1972 and 1993.The 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) includes five protocols covering landmines.” (Article 42 of the Hague Regulations. is the decision taken by the correct authority and after careful review? The tests are included in a policy brief on the Wall and international humanitarian law. transfer. with a particular focus on the concept of military necessity. does the military advantage outweigh the risk of damage to the civilians or civilian property? ● Lastly. Below you will find information about the concept of military necessity. ● Secondly. however. a danger or a need for supply? ● Thirdly. These treaties are binding on states that have signed and ratified them. . not give the armed forces the freedom to do what they want. and explosive remnants (weapons and ammunition left behind after war).territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army. as well as the production. is the measure in line with the principle of proportionality. and transfer of anti-personal landmines are prohibited according to the Ottawa Treaty of 1997. production. The concept military necessity does. There are several agreements within international law that prohibit or limit the use of certain weapons for that reason.IHL prohibits weapons that cause superfluous injuries or unnecessary suffering. The use.) Once a situation exist which amounts to an occupation.. stock-piling. incendiary weapons (weapons that set fire to objects or cause burn injuries to persons).

their honour. This is different than "jus in bellum" which relates to the legality of the actions of the parties during the armed conflict. They are entitled to respect for their person. religious convictions. It means the legality of the use of force itself and whether the war is just or not. and traditions. their family rights. SUMMARY OF THE MAIN RULES OF OCCUPATION Civilians shall be treated as protected persons (article 4 IVGC and article 47 IVGC). They shall be treated humanely and never be discriminated against (article 27 IVGC).The legality of any particular occupation is regulated by the UN Charter and the law known as "jus ad bellum". .