INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW AS AN EVOLVING FIELD OF LAW

Keynote speech at the opening ceremonies of the 2007 Conference on International Humanitarian Law to Mark the 30th Anniversary of the 1977 Additional Protocols, held atManila on 29 August 2007.

DEFINITION AND BACKGROUND

International humanitarian law is a new field of law that governs the use of force, specifically the protection of persons from the effects of armed conflicts.  This new field was officially acknowledged by the International Court of Justice in 1996 when it ruled that the Law of the Hague dealing with the laws and customs of war, and the Law of Geneva dealing with the protection of civilians during armed conflict, “have become as closely interrelated that they are considered to have gradually formed one single complex system, known today as international humanitarian law.”[1]  The Court added that “[t]he provisions of the Additional Protocols of 1977 give expression and attest to the unity and complexity of that law.”[2]

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