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7 International Humanitarian Law and the Conduct of Hostilities

Michael N Schmitt

From: The Oxford Guide to International Humanitarian Law

Edited By: Ben Saul, Dapo Akande

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 16 July 2024

Armed conflict — Conduct of hostilities — Weapons

This chapter explores the principles and rules of international humanitarian law (IHL) that govern the conduct of hostilities by states and other participants during an armed conflict. The term ‘conduct of hostilities’ refers to the application of force in the course of such conflicts. In particular, it encompasses the various methods (tactics) and the means (weapons) that are used during the hostilities. Those aspects of IHL that address the conduct of hostilities can best be understood by reference to a normative typology consisting of foundational principles, general principles, and rules. There are two foundational principles underlying the IHL applicable to the conduct of hostilities: military necessity and humanity. Whereas foundational principles broadly inform IHL, general IHL principles are the sources of individual rules. Rules are the instruments by which states, the sole generators of IHL, agree to limit their freedom of action, and that of other participants, during an armed conflict. The chapter then looks at certain new technologies warfare and highlights the key legal issues they raise with respect to the conduct of hostilities.

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