The Role of Humanitarian Law in Military Operations

The need of a legal basis of conducting warfare 2. Counter-terrorist Operations and the Rule of Law 4.Agenda 1. International Humanitarian Law and the challenges of contemporary armed conflicts 3. Codes of conduct issued by armed groups .

Since then. the changing character of armed conflict and the destructive potential of modern weapons have made necessary many revisions and extensions of humanitarian law in long and patient negotiations. It was not until the second half of the nineteenth century that nations agreed on international rules to avoid needless suffering in wars-rules they bound themselves to observe in a Convention.1. The need of a legal basis of conducting warfare International humanitarian law has a brief but eventful history. .

However. prisoners of war and civilians. a definition is needed. What is international humanitarian law? This body of law can be defined as the principles and rules which limit the use of violence in times of armed conflict. have arisen. shipwrecked. over the past four decades. Two additional protocols: Protocol I deals with the protection of victims of international conflicts. To limit the effects of violence in fighting to the attainment of the objectives of the conflict. directly engaged in hostilities-the wounded. new forms of armed conflict.First of all. Protocol II concerns the victims of internal armed conflicts . The changing nature of armed struggle called for further action. The four Geneva Conventions remain in force today. or are no longer. The aims are: To protect persons who are not. often sharp and violent but localized and involving limited numbers of troops and other combatants.

which is technology. which even if give a good accuracy to weapons. THE NOTION AND TYPOLOGY OF has recently been based on one important factor. while protecting the ones using them. ARMED CONFLICTS . it also increases their destructive power. the implication being that the fulfilment of an intensity criterion is necessary before an inter-state use of force may be classified as an IAC (International Armed Conflict). International Humanitarian Law and the challenges of contemporary armed conflicts This approach has recently been called into question by suggestions that hostilities must reach a certain level of intensity to qualify as an armed conflict.2.

1. Autonomous Weapons Systems 4. only some of which will be briefly mentioned below.There can be no doubt that IHL (International Humanitarian Law) applies to new weaponry and to the employment in warfare of new technological developments. Each of these technologies raises a host of legal issues. Cyber Warfare 2. Automated weapons systems . Remote Controlled Weapons Systems 3.

rule of law values of transparency. but in a more limited manner. They continue to play an important role. Counter-terrorist Operations and the Rule of Law When the military model frames counter-terrorist operations. The ideal of the rule of law concerns legitimate governance. . predictability. and egalitarianism are incompatible with military needs of flexibility and surprise. and rule of law conceptions inform both the restrictions that international humanitarian law imposes and the means of enforcing them.3. rule of law aspirations have lesser relevance than in the criminal justice model. not defence against those outside a state’s authority. Armed conflict should not be wholly unrestrained. However.

Human rights standards commonly exhibit three interrelated aspects: they originate in consensual positive enactments. Later interpretations of those texts take into account evidence of political will and accumulated experience with how rules operate in practice. . The transformation of moral insights into written legal norms regulating a range of distinct societies involves political compromises and predictions about how rules can be successfully implemented. Both the drafting and the interpretation of human rights treaties are influenced by their consensual. and institutional aspects. suprapositive. their content reflects suprapositive normative claims. and as legal rules they must operate within an institutional context.

4. customary IHL. albeit different in length and form. . and Additional Protocol II. As a party to the conflict. These rules aim to regulate both the members’ internal behaviour and their relations outside the group. where applicable). the said group will be bound by the relevant rules of NIAC (Common Article 3 to the Geneva Conventions. contain at their core lists of rules and responsibilities that armed groups’ hierarchies set out for their members. The choice of an armed group to adopt a code of conduct including rules of IHL does not affect the applicability of IHL to an armed group involved in an NIAC. Codes of conduct issued by armed groups The term ‘code of conduct’ is hereby used to refer to documents that. regardless of the content of its own code of conduct .


com . www. Counter-terrorist Operations and the Rule of Law. Neuman. Gerald 4.Document prepared by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Geneva 2011 2.5 © EJIL 2004 3. A collection of codes of conduct issued by armed groups – www. Comment. 15 no. The European Journal of International Law Vol.icrc. International Humanitarian Law and the challenges of contemporary armed conflicts .References 1.icrc.