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Treaties and customary law

International humanitarian law is based on a large number of treaties, in particular the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols, and a series of other conventions and protocols covering specific aspects of the law of armed conflict. There is also a substantial body of customary law that is binding on all States and parties to a conflict. Read full overview

Selected Topics

  • Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols. The Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols

    The Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols are international treaties that contain the most important rules limiting the barbarity of war. They protect people who do not take part in the fighting.


  • 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 IHL is of crucial importance because it fills gaps left by treaty law and so strengthens the protection offered to victims.


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