Principles of International Humanitarian Law
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Principles of International Humanitarian Law

Jonathan Crowe and Kylie Weston-Scheuber

This book provides a clear and concise explanation of the central principles of international humanitarian law (or the law of armed conflict) while situating them in a broader philosophical, ethical and legal context.
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Chapter 2: Sources of international humanitarian law

Jonathan Crowe and Kylie Weston-Scheuber


We have seen that international humanitarian law is the body of international law governing the conduct of armed conflicts. This chapter examines the historical development and main sources of international humanitarian law. We begin by briefly discussing the sources of international law generally, focusing on those topics that are most relevant to international humanitarian law. We will then distinguish between the two main branches of international humanitarian law, known as the Hague law and the Geneva law, before tracking the development of this body of law from the 1860s to the present day. We will see that international humanitarian law centres on a number of important international conventions, such as the Hague Regulations of 1899, the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the two Additional Protocols of 1977. These general documents are supplemented by a number of other sources of law, including specialised conventions on particular issues and types of weapons, the rules of customary international law, the decisions of international tribunals, the writings of prominent academic authors and the pronouncements of bodies such as the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.

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