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Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II), 8 June 1977.

The only provision applicable to non-international armed conflicts before the adoption of the present Protocol was Article 3 common to all four Geneva Conventions of 1949. This Article proved to be inadequate in view of the fact that about 80% of the victims of armed conflicts since 1945 have been victims of non-international conflicts and that non-international conflicts are often fought with more cruelty than international conflicts. The aim of the present Protocol is to extend the essential rules of the law of armed conflicts to internal wars. The fear that the Protocol might affect State sovereignty, prevent governments from effectively maintaining law and order within their borders and that it might be invoked to justify outside intervention led to the decision of the Diplomatic Conference at its fourth session to shorten and simplify the Protocol. Instead of the 47 Articles proposed by the ICRC the Conference adopted only 28. The essential substance of the draft was, however, maintained. The part on methods and means of combat was deleted, but its basic principles are to be found in Article 4 (fundamental guarantees). The provisions on the activity of impartial humanitarian organizations were adopted in a less binding form than originally foreseen. The restrictive definition of the material field of application in Article 1 will have the effect that Protocol II will be applicable to a smaller range of internal conflicts than Article 3 common to the Conventions of 1949.
Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law applicable in Armed Conflicts



1st session:20.02.1974 - 29.03.1974, Geneva; 2nd session:03.02.1975 - 18.04.1975, Geneva; 3rd session:21.04.1976 - 11.06.1976, Geneva; 4th session:17.03.1977 - 10.06.1977, Geneva




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Official Records of the Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law applicable in Armed Conflicts, Bern, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, 1978

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