International humanitarian law (IHL) is a set of rules which seek, for humanitarian reasons, to limit the effects of armed conflict. It protects persons who are not or are no longer participating in the hostilities and restricts the means and methods of warfare.
Armed conflict is as old as humankind itself. There have always been customary practices in war, but only in the last 150 years have States made international rules to limit the effects of armed conflict for humanitarian reasons. The Geneva Conventions and the Hague Conventions are the main examples. Usually called international humanitarian law, it is also known as the law of war or the law of armed conflict.
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