Humanitarian Law

The Geneva Conventions define today’s humanitarian law.  The humanitarian laws comprises of the laws of war, the laws and customs of war or the law of armed conflict.   It is the legal body comprised of the Geneva Conventions and The Hague Conventions; and includes subsequent treaties, case law, and customary international law.   The conduct and responsibilities of belligerent nations, neutral nations and individuals engaged in warfare, in relation to each other and to civilians are detailed under these Conventions.

The Geneva Conventions came into being between 1864 and 1949 as a result of efforts by the International Committee of the Red Cross. These conventions safeguard the human rights of individuals involved in armed conflict, and add to the 1899 and 1907 Hague Conventions.   The Hague Conventions were the international community’s first attempt to formalize the laws of war and war crimes in the emerging secular international law. These conventions were revised as a result of World War II and readopted by the international community in 1949.

The International Committee of the Red Cross is the controlling body of the Geneva conventions.


Inside Humanitarian Law