The objective of the preceding chapter was to demonstrate that human rights principles form a significant part of the body of international law broadly applicable to child civilians in situations of armed conflict. This Chapter now outlines provisions in international humanitarian law concerning the treatment of civilians of all ages, and not those which explicitly refer to child civilians. It is important to summarise these general provisions of international humanitarian law since child civilians are entitled to protection under this body of law both as members of the civilian population as a whole (discussed here), and as a specific particularly vulnerable group within the civilian population (discussed in Chapter 4).
This book is concerned with jus in bello (the rules which apply in situations of armed conflict), and not jus ad bellum (the rules governing the resort to armed force). There is a massive body of law on both these aspects of armed conflict, and a substantial literature.1 Accordingly, only the most pertinent of the main treaties are to be examined in this Chapter and in Chapter 4, as well as a small number of other instruments, such as UN resolutions. The selected provisions are, nonetheless, numerous. It appears that those drafting this body of law, especially in the aftermath of World War II, were acutely aware of the need to provide civilians, and sometimes explicitly child civilians, with protection from the horrors and dangers of armed conflict.
The modern laws of armed conflict developed from what were originally three separate trends in international law. Two of these were initially con-____________________