There is no doubt that international humanitarian law (IHL) and human rights law (HRL) are distinct branches of international law. They have different origins, sources, scope of application and enforcement mechanisms. Originally referred to as ‘the law of war’, IHL has evolved since the mid-nineteenth century as an effort to enforce the Grotius temperamenta in bello, or restrictions on warfare limiting the effects of wartime violence and protecting victims. Two parallel sets of rules existed. One was essentially devoted to regulating the means and methods of warfare, aiming to limit the effects of violence in the conduct of hostilities and defining the rights and duties of belligerents as well as the lawful means of inflicting injury. A second set of rules – promoted by Henri Dunant and the Red Cross Movement after the battle of Solferino of 24 June 1859 – aims at the protection of the victims of war: individuals who are ‘hors de combat’.
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