Talk:International humanitarian law

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Violations and punishment[edit]

I disagree with some information published under this heading

1) Regarding the definition of reprisals it should be added that it is forbidden to use reprisals against protected persons and objects.

2) Regarding whether a soldier is still entitled to POW status in case he violates IHL, I totally disagree with your interpretation of the law.

Additional Protocol I (Art. 43 and 44) makes it clear that all members of the armed forces are combatants and that all combatants upon capture are entitled to POW status and treatment. "While all combatants are obliged to comply with the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, violations of these rules shall not deprive a combatant of his right to be a combatant or, if he falls into the power of an adverse Party, of his right to be a prisoner of war" (Additional Protocol I, Art. 44§2).

The notion of "unlawful combatant" does not exist in IHL (nor in LoW); it is a by-product of the so-called war against terrorism. person is either a combatant (if they fill all the criteria of the definition) or a civilian. There is nothing in between such as "unlawful combatants"

3) "Terrorist" do not exist under IHL; I mean that there is no definition as to what is terrorism and what is not. There is more than 20 international treaties about terrorism each providing its own definition of terrorism.

4) IHL makes it an obligation to prosecute war crimes "without any delay" (Additional Protocol I, Art. 80§1, see also Geneva Convention III, Art. 129) and not only at the end of hostilities. Ppolar 14:58, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

I agree. This section is unclear and potentially misleading as to the uncertainty/controversy over this area of the law - although perhaps more of a political issue. Pob1984 (talk) 12:48, 19 April 2009 (UTC)

Basic rules of IHL[edit]

num 4 is just wrong. If A enemy civilian merchant ship is carrying war supplies for an enemy, then it is a civilian objects on the one hand, and military objectives on the other. So Its back to the drawing board with that one.Philip Baird Shearer 01:58, 23 Oct 2004 (UTC)

This is simply an overview of an interpretation of the IHL corpus as a whole. It is not meant to detail exceptions such as the one you described. GuloGuloGulo 08:51, Oct 23, 2004 (UTC)
The point of that example is that as "International Humanitarian Law" IHL does not even begin to make qualify its introductory section to make allowances for such things. Perhaps you should rewrite it so that it does if you think they are the same thing. In the Falklands War the cargo ship MV Atlantic Conveyor was carrying British war supplies and was hit by an air launched Exocet with civilians sailors on board. No one would have suggested after the conflict that as it was private property that the Argentinian pilot who launched the missile was a war criminal which the current "overview 4" suggests that he was. If he had hit the liner Canberra, which was carrying troops it would have lead to a large loss of life of civilians as well at troops, but it would not have been a war crime either although she was a civilian ship with civilians on board. Philip Baird Shearer 11:37, 23 Oct 2004 (UTC)
As you can see, the overview is attributed. The analysis comes from a reputable legal adviser and was found on the IHLRI, "based at the Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research (HPCR) at the Harvard School of Public Health." #4 says civilian people and objects can't be targeted. In the examples you provided the objects are obviously military in nature, therefore legitimate targets. It doesn't need the qualification you suggest, at least not in the overview. GuloGuloGulo 18:54, Oct 23, 2004 (UTC)

But the ships contained civilians and they were civilian ships. So now it is not ALL civilian people and objects, can't be targeted it is just some of them. This is starting to get complicated. I'm not sure, but it is likely that these civilian ships refulled at the Ascension Island. The civilian tanker which delivered the oil there might have been targeted and sunk, in which case would the Argetinian crew have commited a war crime? What is the limit in the chain? Trouble is as soon as one admits that some civilans and property are legitimate targets, one has to decide where to stop, the devil is in the detail, which is what the LoW about. Philip Baird Shearer 23:16, 23 Oct 2004 (UTC)

LEt's just go back to definitions, shall we!!! IHL provides that

"military objectives are limited to those objects which by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to military action and whose total or partial destruction, capture or neutralization, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage" (see 1977 Additional Protocol I, Art. 52§2)


"Civilian objects are all objects which are not military objectives as defined in paragraph 2" ( Additional Protocol I, Art. 52§1)

These two definitions are considered part of customary law.

Therefore, a civilian merchant ship which transports military equipment definitely falls into the definition of "military objective" and can be the object of an attack although this attack might cause damage to the civilians on board the ship. The question whether the civilians on board the ship are still protected depends on the interpretation given to the following rule:

"Civilians shall enjoy the protection afforded by this section, unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities." (Additional Protocol I, Art. 51§3)

If these civilians are considered to take DIRECT part to hostilities, then they can be directly attacked; if not, they will be considered as collateral damage provided the principle of proportionality is respected.Ppolar 14:28, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

IHL and Laws of War reconciliation[edit]

I've gotten comments that my merge of laws of war into IHL was inappropriate. Specifically, that "there is overlap in the subjects but they are not the same thing. The Laws of War have a long and complex history and cover more than the modern modern concept of IHL." It is, or at least was, my understanding that IHL is the modern equivalent of Laws of War; that they are basically the same thing, that International Humanitarian Law is just a neologism. I'd like to know specifically what the differences are, and suggestions on how best to differentiate in the articles. GuloGuloGulo 08:51, Oct 23, 2004 (UTC)

English speaking countries used to have "Ministry of War Now" they have "Ministries of Defense". This is not a neologism it is an euphemism. But I do not think that "International Humanitarian Law" (IHL) and "Laws of War" (LoW) are either a neologism or a euphemism because they are different things.
There is an overlap between the LoW and IHL but they are not the same thing in all cases. For example a person can commit genocide without going to war to do it. But the laws on Mercenaries has little to do with IHL {although there is a definition in the Geneva Conventions additional Protocol I (1977)} Philip Baird Shearer 11:37, 23 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Genocide and mercenaries are both covered under the corpus, which includes the Geneva conventions. I think the LoW are fully contained within IHL. That IHL is LoW, but also covers peacetime human rights violations. GuloGuloGulo 19:04, Oct 23, 2004 (UTC)
GGG, why do you feel it appropriate to encompass more than a century of written law, and millennia of military tradition and custom into the definition put forth by an organization found in 2002? Going to their website, I see that the most basic error in trying to indicate Lws of War=IHL is that they base their concepts on the Geneva Conventions (some of which are not universally ratified even by major powers) with only a peripheral glance at the Hague Conventions, which define issues of the definitions of combatants and civilians, privileged and unprivileged belligerency, and the conduct of warfare. -- Cecropia | explains it all ® 20:26, 23 Oct 2004 (UTC)

so GGG now you do not think "IHL is the modern equivalent of Laws of War" you think it is a super set of LoW. That is a big change in just 24 hours. To quote Cromwell "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken." Philip Baird Shearer 23:16, 23 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I don't know what constitutes a "peripheral glance" to the Hague Conventions. It is very possible that I am mistaken and I'm completely open to differentiating between the two. I just have yet to see a good explanation of their differences. GuloGuloGulo 08:43, Oct 24, 2004 (UTC)

Some kind of merger seems appropriate to me. If IHL and LoW are "not the same thing," someone who contends that needs to fix the introductory paragraph of this article, which states that IHL is "also known as the law of war," and defines IHL in such a way that it is very difficult to distinguish the two. IHL is a little broader than LoW, but the overlap is so extensive that it would seem to make sense to bring the LoW article into this one, or merge them both into a "law of armed conflict" article, since "armed conflict" is broader than "war." PubliusFL 19:17, 27 December 2006 (UTC)


I came here from RfC. Does this article still have a dispute? Maurreen 05:16, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)

There hasn't been any recent activity here, so I suppose the dispute isn't very active. The dispute arose mainly from redirecting already existing redirects such as Law of war here under the contention that IHL is a neologism for the terms Law of war, Laws of land conflict, etc., while other (including myself) pointed out how these concepts have overlap, but are not the same thing. -- Cecropia | explains it all ® 18:04, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)
OK, I'll remove the listing. Maurreen 05:02, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Non-uniformed guerrillas and Protocol 1[edit]

In the first sentence of the section "Non-uniformed guerrillas and Protocol 1", I think something is missing (gramatically). I'm having trouble understanding. Are points a-d the criteria for determining if a person has lawful combatant status? Lex 17:28, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Curtailment of declaration of war[edit]

The article states "the UN charter (1945) Art 2, and some other Arts in the charter, curtails the right of member states to declare war..." Article 2 of the UN Charter deals with the responsibilities of UN members to seek peaceful means for the solution of international disputes and the avoidance of the threat or use of force against any state. But Article 2 does not prevent the use of force in cases of breaches of the peace and acts of aggression as indicated in Chapter 7 and member nations can be required to assist the Security Council in its efforts to restore peaceful conditions. The proper reading seems to be that member nations defer to the Security Council when hostile circumstances arise but this does not prevent a member from acting in self-defense while the Security Council is considering matters. There is nothing in Article 2 or Chapter 7 that would prevent a Security Council declaration concerning the use of force. --Jbergquist 07:02, 6 August 2006 (UTC)


I see above that there was some controversy before, but I fail to understand why this article exists. User:Cecropia had said over three years ago that it's not the same thing as the laws of war, but the opening line of this article includes the phrase "also known as the law of war".

That means they're the same. In fact, the sole reference to this article says IHL and the laws of war are the same thing.

Unless someone can say differently, these two articles need to be merged.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 16:11, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

I am definitely against merger, the case is well-explained by Philip Baird Shearer above.Joel Mc (talk) 01:24, 5 February 2008 (UTC)
That was almost four years ago. A lot of this stuff is more clear now.
Besides that, Philip Baird Shearer is wrong (on a number of things). If you read this article, it only talks about the laws of war, not genocide when war is not involved. If you read the ICRC source, it says, "International humanitarian law applies to armed conflicts."
If you don't agree then please find more sources that back up what you want this article to say. You may then need to find a different title, as "International humanitarian law" means the laws of war.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 01:49, 5 February 2008 (UTC)
(Sorry for such a late reply, but I am traveling in and out reach of Wikipedia links )You are right that most sources use the terms IHL and Laws of War interchangeably, often stating: IHL also known as the Laws of War or Laws of War, also known as IHL. However, a quick look indicates places where they are in fact distinguished, i.e. in the judgement of ICJ re: the case concerning the application of the convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide (Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro) 26 Feburary 2007. " that Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) has violated and is continuing to violate its legal obligations toward the People and State of Bosnia and Herzegovina under the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, their Additional Protocol I of 1977, the customary international laws of war including the Hague Regulations on Land Warfare of 1907, and other fundamental principles of international humanitarian law;" p.17 (cf. also p. 5) ICJ But my reluctance to combine the two articles is based on the view that there are quite different approaches to the issue: Military training to the best of my knowledge focuses on the Laws of War whereas the humanitarian community, including the ICRC, talks about IHL. It is my impression that military training focuses on the reciprocal basis, i.e. if you treat POWs badly, then you can expect to be treated badly if you get taken prisoner. Whereas humanitarians tend to explain the importance of IHL on safeguarding the life and dignity of persons not participating directly in hostilities based on the principle of humanity. Moreover, most intergovernmental political discussions (see numerous UN resolutions and documents) refer to IHL rather than the Laws of War. Perhaps this a recent result of a growing view which sees a certain convergence between IHL and International Human Rights Law. Having said all of this, I find that neither article is very good and that both are poorly referenced. It might be useful to see the Law of War as a major subset of IHL--it really can't be the reverse. I would be reluctant to have IHL subsumed under the Law of War and there are probably those who feel the same about the Law of War. At the minimum the two pages should be coordinated and rewritten even if it risks some duplication. Joel Mc (talk) 11:18, 12 February 2008 (UTC)
I know what you're saying but I think this is the wrong article for that. As far as that reference goes it says IHL is same thing as the laws of war. The laws of war already do include the treatment of civilians.
Even for what you're saying (which would require a different title), it's still only applicable during wartime for wartime offenses.
International human rights law already has its own article.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 19:54, 13 February 2008 (UTC)
I am sorry for not being clearer. I was only trying to explain why I would be opposed to combining the articles under Law of War. I have already given a reference which implies that there are differences in some cases, given a little more time I can give more. While there may be some convergence, I would not argue that IHL is the same as IHRL. Perhaps we could replace in the first sentence "also known" with "often referred to" and have short section farther down which would explain the different approaches.Joel Mc (talk) 10:07, 18 February 2008 (UTC)
I think that reference is a bare sliver, but it does show that somebody thinks the same way you do. It would go a long way toward clearing it up if we make that change to the lead, and then somebody finds more references at some point in the future.
In any case, you've said enough that I'm not in any hurry to ask for a merge.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 19:24, 19 February 2008 (UTC)

References and Historical Convergence[edit]

As promised I have begun to do some work on this. I hope the para on convergence helps understand the terminology. I have added references, and rewrote the basic rules using the direct ICRC refs. More is to be done, but I put this in now so that others might also pick up the baton. Work also needs to be done on the Laws of war site. --Joel Mc (talk) 10:17, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

Suggestions for Extension[edit]

I think the article is missing a section on humanitarian law (its developments) pre-Geneva Conventions and WWII). I did some work on War rape and the section "Humanitarian law prior to World War II" might provide some inspirations. It appears that some of the great philosophers and jurists that helped establish humanitarian law, as well as some of the pre-Geneva Conventions War Codes already have their own Wikiarticles, so a pre-Geneva Conventions section in the humanitarian law article would pull this all together nicely...--SasiSasi (talk) 12:33, 30 July 2008 (UTC)

Good idea. I hope to have some time in the next week or so to do some work on this article. --Joel Mc (talk) 15:35, 30 July 2008 (UTC)

Rewrite and reorganization[edit]

As I indicated above, I have been wanting to do some work on this. I hope that that the organization makes sense. I also hope that I have thrown any of the baby out with the bathwater. I have focused on the the law of geneva since there is a separate article on the law of war. I have removed parts such as extensive discussion of the ICRC which are more extensively covered on subject pages; the discussion on non-uniformed guerillas etc is of course important but belongs elsewhere. Punishments and particularly examples need more work, etc.--Joel Mc (talk) 16:42, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

recent image[edit]

I cannot see why this is appropriate for this article. We really shouldnt be starting to get into a battle on this page with images of whatever side says something about the other, the image placed adds no value whatsoever to the article. I was reverted when removing the image so I ask mbz1 to justify its inclusion. Nableezy (talk) 04:38, 17 March 2009 (UTC)

I don't see anything wrong with it. It highlights a region which absorbs the vast majority of international law attention, so the inclusion makes sense. Wikifan12345 (talk) 04:59, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
That image highlights one specific thing, one that has not been given as much weight as many other violations of international law. It is meant to bring attention to one side of an issue, something that I would hope we could avoid at these articles and instead seek something resembling an encyclopedia article. You are not going to see me adding pictures of any number of violations by Israel. We just shouldnt be doing this pushing of an agenda at every single article. Nableezy (talk) 05:29, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
Feel free to add images of Israel violating x law. Crying children/grandmother's don't count. :D Wikifan12345 (talk) 05:50, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
You dont get my point, this article isnt about Israel vs Palestine, this article in no way benefits from turning it into Israel vs Palestine. I dont want to add those images, they are not needed here. Nableezy (talk) 05:52, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
They illustrate a critical point in the subject of international humanitarian law. Nobody wants this to be an Israel vs Palestine editing war. I truly am tired of this tit-for-tat mentality, where everything critical of the Palestinians must be balanced with an equal criticism of Israelis, and vice-versa. If you can find a picture of the Israeli military violating x law (not allegation), feel free to include it. Pictures are very valuable in these sorts of articles. Wikifan12345 (talk) 06:00, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
expand on 'not allegation'. and of all the possible violations in the whole world, this is really representative of anything? Nableezy (talk) 06:02, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
As in, lobbying groups/theocracies/angry activists demanding blood. A picture illustrating the Israeli military violating international humanitarian law. Not speculation, conjecture, or accusations. It would be better if there was a section detailing x countries of violating international humanitarian law. Wikifan12345 (talk) 06:16, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
But every violation is somebody arguing it is a violation. Who has to say that this is a violation of international law? And I dont think there should be a section on countries violating it, this article should just be about the actual law. Nableezy (talk) 06:20, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
And I would like a source saying that this is against international humanitarian law, not just a violation of international law. And also one saying that this rocket was fired from a 'civilian' area in Gaza to a 'civilian' area in southern Israel. Nableezy (talk) 06:29, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
Lol: Hamas bears legal responsibility for the harm to civilians in areas from which it fires is enshrined throughout international law, he said: "In the general principles of customs binding on nations, in the specific international law of armed conflict also called international humanitarian law, in the Fourth Geneva Convention, in decisions of the International Court of Justice and the international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda - it's all set out there." Wikifan12345 (talk) 07:06, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
So you dont want me to use an image of a violation according to AI or HRW or such groups but according to a Canadian lawyer is good? Gotta love the consistency. Nableezy (talk) 07:09, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
An image illustrating Israel violating international humanitarian law? Such as, deliberately targeting civilian residencies. Not bombing Hamas stations/infracture/etc... and in the process killing x civilians. Though I don't think we use images by AI or HRW unless it is sourced from reliable media (like the UN). Destroyed buildings, hospitals, etc... don't count. Honestly, after further researching it would be difficult to actually prove the rocket is aimed at civilians, but through deductive reasoning we can assume. From what I understand, most rocket attacks qualify under spray-and-pray, with the intention to inflict harm on any Israeli - civilian or not. I don't know, kind of leaning towards removing the images due to lack of source, but then we can obviously use the hundreds of pictures displaying rocket attacks that have been aimed intentionally at the Sderot to kill civilians. Wikifan12345 (talk) 07:18, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
This image is not from a RS if that is your concern with images detailing accounts of violations according to AI or HRW. Nableezy (talk) 07:34, 17 March 2009 (UTC)

I try to start out by assuming good faith but when I saw the image, I could only think "provocation". (Can there be provocation in good faith?) Why this particular image among thousands of cases? Does the image really give insight into the subject at hand. I have spent a fair amount of time on this page because I believe that it is an important topic for the general public. The idea is to have a place where somebody can go to answer the question: "What is IHL?" It could obviously be improved, but introducing disputed cases doesn't really clarify. The debates about violations of IHL by the Israelis or Palestinians is certainly important, but it doesn't belong here. Unless I see a convincing reason for including the image within the next day or so, I will delete it--unless somebody has already done so.--Joel Mc (talk) 10:44, 17 March 2009 (UTC)

Is the image a provacation or a firing rockets from civilians toward civilians is a provacation? You're asking why this particular image among thousands of cases. Because the image shows a double violation of IHL firing rockets from civilians toward civilians. It provides a very good example. IMO the article will benefit from more images. The case is not disputed. It is proven beyond the reasonable doubt - hamas fires rockets tovard Israel from civilian neighborhoods in Gaza. If you have any other images in mind please add them to the article too. The way you said " Unless I see a convincing reason for including the image within the next day or so, I will delete it..." without even seeking consensus shows a good faight on your part I guess.--mbz1 (talk) 12:51, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
Consensus isnt a vote, you need to provide a valid reason for the image. Nableezy (talk) 18:38, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
The reason is that the image shows not just one, but doube violations of IHL. The facts depicted in the image are proven. The image was posted in the section of the article that calls "Violations and punishment". Do I have to provide any other reason?--mbz1 (talk) 19:00, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
Yes, because there are countless other pictures of violations that could be put to use, and that is not really a representative example of violations of international humanitarian law. Nableezy (talk) 23:59, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
The article will benefit from the images. Please tell me what image is better for the article and why, but I doubt that you will tell me anything. You're mostly running single purpose account discussing only certain articles. You took the image off without waiting for the dicussion to end and by doing this showed your "good faith"--mbz1 (talk)
I really dont care what you think about me, so feel free to voice your opinion. If you want images of violations, well there is the West Bank wall (legally recognized as a violation of international humanitarian law) or really any image from the Holocaust article, or My Lai Massacre, or images from any number of atrocities that have been committed in Africa or Europe over the last 30 years. Though I think the image that would be most fitting for that section would be the logo of the international court of justice, which you can see here. That or the image of the Nuremberg trials, image at International court Nableezy (talk) 00:32, 18 March 2009 (UTC)

Please add pictures Nab. I believe I should reiterate your statement on the Israeli West Bank barrier. The UN condemned the wall as "illegal" under a resolution supported by 150 countries. But UN resolutions such as those tend to be non-binding since it is basically a popularity contest - with every member state, regardless of position or state agenda, receiving an equal vote. The resolution passed of course and the International Court of Justice was asked for an advisory opinion, which IS NOT the same as a trial or court hearing. They decided the barrier violated international law.

According to wikipedia, Advisory opinions are not binding nor do they carry the same "official" weight as an actual trial. They are however "widely respected". It is my opinion they are done to circumvent the standard procedures of courting, perhaps to avoid a potentially undesired ruling. But the West Bank barrier has yet to be ruled as violating IHL, which is part of the general topic of international law. I'm honestly sick the half-truths and misinformation being propagated on the internet so I feel obligated to inform you. :D I have a sneaking suspicion you've been browsing one of the most notable propaganda articles on wikipedia. Wikifan12345 (talk) 02:47, 18 March 2009 (UTC)

Havent read that article in some time, but it isnt quite on the level of propaganda as quite a few others (my personal favorite is the mt hebron article which makes the wild claim that Mt Hebron is in the Samaria region of Israel. Israel doesnt even say that, but somehow wiki does). More to the point, the 'advisory opinion' of the CIJ and rulings by the Israeli Supreme Court said that the wall as currently constructed is a violation of international humanitarian law. And if the standard you are holding this to is a binding ruling by the CIJ then the rockets do not qualify either. have some consistency in your arguments, or better yet lets keep these arguments in our little corner of mayhem in wikipedia, no need to put this everywhere like the Kindergarten article of here. I will upload the CIJ logo and place it, as I think that is the best picture to use here as it fits well with the rest of the article. Nableezy (talk) 05:33, 18 March 2009 (UTC)
Doesn't say "international humanitarian law." Wrong again, this time about the Israeli supreme court. Straight from "accurate" wiki: [1]. They've ordered injunctions/limitations on the construction of the wall (which is why 40% of it isn't completed), but content that the fence is motivated by security concerns and not motivated by political reasons (i.e, stealing land). They also declared the ruling by the ICJ is not legally binding to ISrael. Supreme Court has become concerned regarding the position the barrier places on Palestinians and believes the government should re-fence or find a move back the wall to the green line. Whatever the case may be, it's certainly more complex than the a sinister government stealing land from helpless civilians. Wikifan12345 (talk) 05:47, 18 March 2009 (UTC)
From the advisory opinion by the CIJ: "All States are under an obligation not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction; all States parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949 have in addition the obligation, while respecting the United Nations Charter and international law, to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law as embodied in that Convention" Nableezy (talk) 06:18, 18 March 2009 (UTC)
And: "As regards international humanitarian law, the Court refers to the provisions of the Hague Regulation of 1907, which have become part of customary law, as well as the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 1949, applicable in those Palestinian territories which before the armed conflict of 1967 lay to the east of the 1949 Armistice demarcation line (or "Green Line") and were occupied by Israel during that conflict." And this is just in the press release, if you really want me to go through the whole opinion and point out to you where you are incorrect in your assertion that the court did not find this to be a violation of international humanitarian law i will. Nableezy (talk) 06:21, 18 March 2009 (UTC)
Keep digging the hole Nab. Wikifan12345 (talk) 06:52, 18 March 2009 (UTC)

The UN 2000 and W[edit]

Isn't the Bush Doctrine more relevant than the war over who gets the state? Northern Ireland falls into the same category of civil unrest as the Israel vs Palestine conflict. This article is specific to military conflicts & POW treatment per Geneva. Isn't it?

The United Nations Millennium Declaration states, "Human beings must respect one other, in all their diversity of belief, culture and language. Differences within and between societies should be neither feared nor repressed, but cherished as a precious asset of humanity."]

That should be law, but it's just hope. :) Romanfall (talk) 10:51, 10 June 2009 (UTC)

New section suggestion - Continued Relevance?[edit]

Nitpicking to find violations committed by western countries is ridiculous.

How about a section that discusses efforts on what to do with the non-compliant countries? Most of Africa, nearly the entire Middle East, some parts of Asia and South America don't strike me as particularly conforming when it comes to adhering to the IHL. Regardless of whether they signed on to any of the IHL versions or not.

Opinions on this? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Krigsmakten (talkcontribs) 19:48, 21 July 2009 (UTC)

Merge discussion[edit]

I'd suggest that Customary International Humanitarian Law is merged here as it seems a needless fork of this page. An effective discussion of the corpus of material that makes up the Law of Armed Conflict requires both customary and treaty law to adequately cover the subject and there doesn't appear to have been justification for the fork. ALR (talk) 19:53, 29 November 2011 (UTC)

Support Merge - unfork away... Buckshot06 (talk) 20:36, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
I lean weak oppose as what is customary international law has a status beyond what is treaty law as customary international law is binding on all states, regardless of their having signed a treaty. But I dont feel too strongly about this. nableezy - 21:15, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
It's a couple of years since I was last at Staff College so my understanding may be a little rusty, but I'd suggest that if anything Customary Law is not binding. It is, on the other hand, considered in the Hague when addressing war crimes.
My concern is that from the perspective of a practitioner the two areas of LOAC are interdependent rather than being distinct and where one is making a targeting decision one considers both treaty and customary.
Notwithstanding that neither article is particularly informative at the moment, particularly if a reader reviews both.
ALR (talk) 22:23, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
The statutes of the Permanent Court of International Justice already drawn up in December 1920 indicate inter alia three sources of international law: treaties, customary international law, and the general principles of law recognised by civilized nations. Although there has been much learned discussion about the sources, I am unaware that the basis has changed. I would support the merger.Joel Mc (talk) 11:34, 8 December 2011 (UTC)

It is true that customary and treaty laws are interrelated, but they also remain very distinct sources of international legal obligations. Therefore I suggest cross-references in both articles but no merge of the two articles. Comonline (talk) 15:22, 8 December 2011 (UTC)

they are more than just interrelated, but are two different sources of international law, or two sub-sets, if you will. In that case, the fork doesn't really make sense. I still vote for the inclusion of the sub-set (Customary International Humanitarian Law) within the overall piece International Humanitarian Law which already includes the sub-set international humanitarian treaty law. As is clear in Art. 38 of the statutes of the ICJ (it was the same article, I believe, for the PCIJ) States can have obligations under both treaty law and customary law.Joel Mc (talk) 17:07, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
it may be helpful to consider the following text from the ICRC introducing their work on customary international humanitarian law:

International law comes from both treaty law and rules of what is known as customary international law. Treaties are written conventions in which States formally establish certain rules. Customary international law, on the other hand, is not written but derives from "a general practice accepted as law". To prove that a certain rule is customary, one has to show that it is reflected in state practice and that the international community believes that such practice is required as a matter of law. Customary IHL continues to be relevant in today’s armed conflicts for two main reasons. The first is that, while some States have not ratified important treaty law, they remain nonetheless bound by rules of customary law.

Joel Mc (talk) 17:27, 8 December 2011 (UTC)

And it is also possible for treaty law to become customary law if enough states agree to the provisions and have put into practice such provisions. Eg the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals' decision on the treatment of POWs. Also customary law can go the other way. Eg as everyone bombed civilians in World War II it was the custom so no crime was committed even if before WWII it was thought to be a war crime, and because of the precedent set then it is not at all clear if it is a crime today (see the ICJ opinion over the use of Atomic Weapons) -- PBS (talk) 04:21, 15 January 2012 (UTC)

There is also the article Laws of war which should be thrown into the mix if a merge is being talked about. Laws of war is the more common name for IHL hence the term "war crime" rather than "international humanitarian crime". -- PBS (talk) 04:21, 15 January 2012 (UTC)

I would not agree to merging IHL into the article on Laws of war. I am not so sure that laws of war is the more common name for IHL although that may still be the case in the military. At least it is my impression that in the humanitarian and human rights communities, IHL is more commonly used. In the past, the two terms referred to two traditions: the Laws of the Hague and the Laws of Geneva. (see Pictet 1985 p. 49 ) Probably since 1949, at least, law of war or armed conflict is "usually called international humanitarian law." ICRC: War and International Humanitarian Law Joel Mc(talk) 12:07, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
I'd not be comfortable about merging the Laws of War article, although would prefer to re-name it towards Law of Armed Conflict. Whilst intimately related it's more about the application. I'd suggest that merging the two risks ending up with an unwieldy and unhelpful article.
From a practitioner perspective reference to LOAC is very firmly present in the diplomatic, and military communities as well as amongst those humanitarian practitioners who operate in areas of medium intensity conflict. Bluntly the only people I've ever heard refer to this as IHL were academics. Even ICRC reps on the ground talk about LOAC.
The LoW cf LOAC debate is for another time although "Armed Conflict" covers much more than "war", given the broad applicability of the conventions.
ALR (talk) 12:34, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
Since we are referring to personal experience, might I add that I have had little contact with academics, but during more than 20 years involvement in humanitarian response, I have used and heard the term IHL in discussions with diplomats, UN officials, and ICRC delegates in the field in such far-flung places as Kigali, Kabul, and Pristina. Joel Mc (talk) 12:57, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
Fair enough. And similarly more than 20 years; Balkans, West Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, Indonesia and Horn of Africa.
Most recently Rule of Law implementation in Afghanistan and RoL planning for Somalia, although I'm not on the delivery side of that.
ALR (talk) 13:13, 16 January 2012 (UTC)

Well it seems that the majority of opinion supports merging the two IHL articles. I'm afraid I've been a bit busy since I suggested doing it but should have some bandwidth in the next week or so to try to get some of that done.

Personally I'm not intending on suggesting a merge with the Laws of War article but there is scope for a section discussing the implementation impact, particularly where military/ security operations impact on the ability of the development community to operate.

Rough thoughts in terms of structure would be along the lines of:

  • Outline of IHL and the use of statutory and customary instruments within that.
  • Discussion of the history and relationships between the various contributing threads.
  • Identification of the issues of implementation.
  • Touch on enforcement and the courts system.

It's probably pretty clear now that I'm coming at this as a military practitioner, so other expertise around shaping the article would be very useful.

ALR (talk) 13:40, 16 January 2012 (UTC)

Looks like a good idea to me. I would only add where military operations impact on the ability of the humanitarian and development communities to operate.Joel Mc (talk) 13:42, 19 January 2012 (UTC)