International Humanitarian Law (IHL)

What is International Humanitarian Law?

Even wars have limits. International humanitarian law (IHL) protects people who are not taking part in fighting.

Also known as the laws of war, IHL protects people who aren’t taking part in the fighting – including civilians, medics and aid workers – as well as those who can no longer fight, such as wounded soldiers and prisoners of war. IHL also restricts the kind of weapons that can be used. The best-known of these laws are the Geneva Conventions.

For IHL to be useful in times of war, it must be understood during times of peace. We run awareness campaigns and educational programmes to help the public, the Government and other organisations better understand IHL.

Our work includes discussing IHL in schools, running an annual Moot Court competition for law students and educating people about the protected Red Cross, Red Crescent and Red Crystal emblems.

Watch the ICRC video Rules of War, in a Nutshell.


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