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16 Implementation of International Humanitarian Law

David Turns

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, 2021. All Rights Reserved.date: 17 January 2021

Subject(s):
Armed conflict — National implementation

This chapter provides a holistic view of the implementation of international humanitarian law (IHL) as including all the various tools which may be used to render IHL effective in practice, whether they are used primarily before a situation of armed conflict arises, or during or after such a situation; whether they invoke the civil responsibility of the state or the criminal responsibility of individuals; and whether they fall to be implemented in a national or international context. Early attempts at the enforcement of the laws of war appeared through the prism of punishing those who were judged guilty of violating that body of rules. However, it was not until the advent of mass citizen-armies organized by nation-states as a public activity in the course of the seventeenth century that something resembling systematic national implementation of the laws of war began to take place. The chapter then sets out the contemporary legal framework provided by treaty instruments and recognized as customary international law, before examining specific state obligations relating to pre-conflict preventive measures; the supervision of conduct and repression of violations during conflict; and the subsequent enforcement of IHL by judicial, quasi-judicial, and non-judicial means. It also considers the increasingly important role played by non-state actors (NSAs)—such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society, and the media—in monitoring and advocacy on IHL issues.

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