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World Humanitarian Day

Since 2003, the United Nations has recognized World Humanitarian Day on the 19th of August, in tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and to rally support for people affected by crises around the world.

In observance of this day, we’ve put together key chapters and articles in humanitarian law from across our products and books, and made them freely available for you to read throughout August 2018.

Browse the collection below to find out more about use of force, peacekeeping, just wars, and more. We've also included highlights from Oxford Scholarship Online and Oxford Journals, along with a spotlight on our Oxford Monographs in International Humanitarian and Criminal Law series. You can also keep up with us on twitter and facebook for more insights and information.


Between Humanitarian and Human Rights Law (Back to top)
Learn more about the interactions and indifferences between humanitarian and human rights law from this entry in the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law.

More on humanitarian law from MPEPIL:

Humanitarian Intervention »
United Nations and International Humanitarian Law »
Humanitarian Assistance in Cases of Emergency »


Jus in bello (Back to top)

The Just War theory is a doctrine of military ethics, of which the purpose is to ensure war is morally justifiable. The most commonly known conditions of a Just War were put forward by Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century, which over proper authority, good and just purpose, and the right intention.

Jus ad bellum refers to the right to go to war, and Jus in bello, the right conduct in war. International humanitarian law is also referred to as the law of armed conflict or jus in bello as the only branch of public international law specifically intended to preserve humanitarian values during times of armed conflict.

Learn more about the scope of application of international humanitarian law from The Handbook of International Humanitarian Law (3rd Edition).



Peacekeeping (Back to top)

Whilst humanitarian law usually applies during times of conflict, in 1995 it was requested by the UN Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations that a code of conduct be generated to cover personnel interacting with international humanitarian law during peacekeeping operations.

In 1999 a document named ‘Directives for UN forces regarding respect for International Humanitarian Law’ was sent to member states for review, and in August, the Secretary-General issued the bulletin regarding this code of conduct.

You can read an assessment of the issues and impact of the bulletin, and also access the full text.

Find out more about Peacekeeping in the MPEPIL.

Did you know? UN Peacekeeping operations have been underway for over 70 years. Find out more.



Armed Forces and use of force (Back to top)
Visiting Forces in Korea
From The Handbook of the Law of Visiting Forces (2nd Edition)

The Military Operations Against the ‘Islamic State’ (ISIL or Da’esh)—2014
From The Use of Force in International Law: A Case-based Approach

The prohibition of the use of force
From International Law and the Use of Force (4th Edition)

Of Rebels, Insurgents, and Belligerents
From Organizing Rebellion: Non-State Armed Groups under International Humanitarian Law, Human Rights Law, and International Criminal Law

The Right to Life of Armed Forces Personnel during Armed Conflict
From The Right to Life in Armed Conflict

International Humanitarian Law and Blockade
From The Law of Maritime Blockade



Featured Titles: Oxford Monographs in International Humanitarian & Criminal Law (Back to top)

From the OUP Blog: The Geneva Conventions and the minimum standards of humanity, by General Editor Professor Robert Cryer.



From Oxford Scholarship Online (Back to top)
Human Rights and Humanitarian Law as Competing Legal Paradigms for Fighting Terror

Tools for Implementing Humanitarian Law

Women and Private Military and Security Companies

Customary Humanitarian Law: From the Academy to the Courtroom

The Distinction between Civilians and Combatants



From Oxford Journals (Back to top)
A Short History of International Humanitarian Law

Rights under International Humanitarian Law

Needs or Rights? Exploring the Limitations of Individual Reparations for Violations of International Humanitarian Law

Cyber Warfare and the Status of Anonymous under International Humanitarian Law

The Status of Persons Held in Guantánamo under International Humanitarian Law

Reparation Claims by Individuals for State Breaches of Humanitarian Law and Human Rights: An Overview