International Handbooks on Gender series
Edited by Jill Steans and Daniela Tepe
Chapter 21: “With all the respect due to their sex”: gender and international humanitarian law
International humanitarian law is the body of law that governs the use of force in situations of armed conflict. It does so primarily in two ways. One, it regulates the means (arms, for example chemical weapons) and methods (attacks on enemies, for example bombings) of war. And, two, it protects individuals who are not participating in armed conflict (for example civilians) and individuals who are no longer participating in conflict (for example prisoners of war). Currently, the rules and regulations of international humanitarian law are found in its primary treaties, the 1949 Geneva Conventions I–IV and the 1977 Additional Protocols I–II, as well as the conventions restricting or prohibiting the use of certain weapons such as the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and its four protocols. These treaties refer to and build upon previous treaties, such as the 1899 Hague Conventions, and are supplemented by customary law and the rulings of international tribunals and international courts, such as the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. Although I refer to it as international humanitarian law this nomenclature is relatively recent. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) promulgated the term international humanitarian law, as opposed to the laws of war, after the 1928 Kellogg–Briand Pact and the 1945 United Nations Charter respectively outlawed war or limited resort to force.
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