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Customary international humanitarian law

Customary international humanitarian law

Customary international law is made up of rules that come from "a general practice accepted as law" and that exist independent of treaty law. Customary international humanitarian law (IHL) is of crucial importance in today’s armed conflicts because it fills gaps left by treaty law in both international and non-international conflicts and so strengthens the protection offered to victims. Read full overview 

Customary law bannerThe customary IHL database provides rapid access to the rules of customary IHL and enables users to examine practice around the world. Launched in August 2010, the database is updated periodically with new State and international practice

The most recent update, published on 30 July 2014, integrates practice up till the end of 2010 of the following countries: Bangladesh, Ireland, Nigeria, Peru, Sri Lanka, the United States of America and Zimbabwe. Practice from Guinea has been updated up till the end of 2011 and practice from Malaysia has been updated up till the end of 2012. Practice from the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda (ICTR) and the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has also been updated, up till the end of 2010.

Practice in the Treaties and Other Instruments sections has been updated up till the end of 2011.

Publications More publications

Red Cross Red Crescent Magazine

  • Red Cross Red Crescent Magazine
    Customary international humanitarian law

    The ICRC presents a new and long-awaited study that identifies enhanced protection for war victims – Article published in the Red Cross Red Crescent Magazine, No 2, 2005