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Protected persons

Protected persons - International humanitarian law

International humanitarian law protects a wide range of people and objects during armed conflict. The Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols protect the sick, wounded and shipwrecked not taking part in hostilities, prisoners of war and other detained persons, as well as civilians and civilian objects.  Read full overview

Selected Topics

  • International humanitarian law - Women Women and war

    International humanitarian law aims to prevent and alleviate human suffering in war without discrimination based on sex. But it does recognize that women face specific problems in armed conflict, such as sexual violence and risks to their health.


  • International humanitarian law - Civilians Civilians

    During the past 60 years the main victims of war have been civilians. The protection of civilians during armed conflict is therefore a cornerstone of international humanitarian law. This protection extends to their public and private property.


  • International humanitarian law - Prisoners and detainees Prisoners of war and detainees

    The third Geneva Convention provides a wide range of protection for prisoners of war. It defines their rights and sets down detailed rules for their treatment and eventual release. International humanitarian law (IHL) also protects other persons deprived of liberty as a result of armed conflict.


  • Near Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo. International humanitarian law - refugees and displaced people. Refugees and IDPs

    Refugees are people who have crossed an international frontier, fleeing persecution in their country. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) have not crossed a border but have, for whatever reason, also fled their homes.


Publications More publications

  • Guidelines for investigating deaths in custody

    These Guidelines, the first of their kind, provide guidance to detaining authorities, investigating authorities, humanitarian agencies and others on preventing deaths in custody. They reflect international law, policy and best practice and offer a practical tool for both practitioners and decision-makers.

  • Children associated with armed forces or armed groups

    Children associated with armed forces or groups often see, suffer and perpetrate atrocities. Both the brochure and the ICRC's work with children affected by conflict and violence emphasize children's vulnerability and resilience.

Red Cross Red Crescent Magazine

  • Red Cross Red Crescent Magazine
    Protecting the witnesses

    Journalists are often the first to expose the reality of war and the suffering of vulnerable people. But media workers are also targets. What can humanitarians do to help keep them safe — and get the story out?