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2 Historical Development and Legal Basis

Dieter Fleck

From: The Handbook of International Humanitarian Law (4th Edition)

Edited By: Dieter Fleck

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 22 September 2023

Necessity — Armed conflict — Conduct of hostilities — Ius ad bellum — Ius in bello

This chapter discusses the historical evolution and the existing legal foundations of international humanitarian law in the light of current practice. In this context, the ethical and political prerequisites for legal development are discussed in their global relevance, as the origins of the fundamental principles of humanitarian law are not exclusively based on a single region, culture, or religion. At a time which is characterized by rapid societal changes and diminishing distances, a good understanding of the multicultural basis for humanitarian rules is of the utmost importance. Although the subject of this handbook is the law applicable to the conduct of hostilities that applies once a party has entered into armed conflict (the jus in bello), that law cannot be properly understood without some examination of the separate body of rules which determines when resort to armed force is permissible (the jus ad bellum). The jus ad bellum has ancient origins but current law is founded on Article 2(4) and Chapter VII of the UN Charter. The chapter then considers the Geneva Conventions of 1949, as well as the Hague Conventions.

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