Research Handbook on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
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Research Handbook on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law

Edited by Robert Kolb and Gloria Gaggioli

This fascinating Handbook explores the interplay between international human rights law and international humanitarian law, offering expert analysis on the increasingly complex issues surrounding their application in conflict areas across the world.
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Chapter 2: Human rights law and international humanitarian law between 1945 and the aftermath of the Teheran Conference of 1968

Robert Kolb


It is taken for granted today that the law of armed conflict, or international humanitarian law (IHL), and international human rights law (HRL) maintain between their respective bodies both subtle and multiple relationships, with one branch of the law complementing, strengthening or filling the other’s gaps. This supposes, from a theoretical standpoint, that both branches of the law have some shared or common legal ground on which they can interact. This means, for instance, that HRL has to apply in times of armed conflict (something by no means guaranteed before the 1960s); or that HRL may apply extraterritorially, for example in occupied territory, still to some extent a controversial question, albeit the practice of the sheer majority of States and of international organs admits such extraterritoriality in a wide array of cases. Thus, today, to properly analyze some subject matter, such as the law of belligerent occupation, it is impossible to do otherwise but to consider it in its complex blend between IHL and HRL. However, this closeness (and for some, promiscuity) of HRL and IHL has no time immemorial pedigree. It evolved slowly from the late 1940s to the present times. And indeed, it grew out of a situation where the two branches of the law stood quite unrelated one besides the other, each one championed by an international institution nourishing some mistrust for the other, and each one having its specialized set of lawyers and its particular agenda

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