International Humanitarian Law Day

Manila Bulletin, August 12, 2008 | Go to article overview

International Humanitarian Law Day


In the 19th century, there was a successful effort to create a set of internationally recognized laws governing the conduct and treatment of persons in warfare. In the middle of the 1850s, Henri Dunant, founder of the international Red Cross, helped champion the first application rules of international humanitarian law - the Geneva Convention of 1964.

From these beginnings, international humanitarian law evolved and over the course of half a century, it brought about the Hague Convention of 1899 and 1904 which limited the means by which aggressive states can conduct warfare. By definition, international humanitarian law has become the law of armed conflict, the goal of which is to limit the effects of war on people and property and to protect particularly vulnerable persons. Most of the treaties on armed conflict were made in response to the new methods of warfare such as World War I, which witnessed the large-scale use of poison, aerial bombardment, and the capture of prisoners of war. In the same manner, new treaties were drawn up after World War II, which saw civilians and military personnel killed in equal numbers. …

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