The law of armed conflict: teaching file


The ICRC plays a major role in assisting the armed forces to teach and spread knowledge of the law of armed conflict. The teaching file has been developed for exactly that purpose. It is a training aid, available to any armed or security force that wishes to make use of it. The aim of the teaching file is therefore to assist instructors of the armed and security forces to teach the law of armed conflict.

General style and approach  

The file is written in a user-friendly style, avoiding legal jargon as much as possible. It was drafted by retired army, navy and air-force officers experienced in military operations and the humanitarian field, with the needs of serving officers in mind. It was edited by a number of legal experts who provided invaluable advice and ensured accuracy. Where inevitably legal phrases or words have to be used, they are explained in language understandable to the military. In line with two key principles on which the ICRC undertakes all its work, the file strives throughout to take a neutral and impartial view of the law. It is for the instructor and his or her students to relate the law to their own particular circumstances.

Advice for instructors on using the teaching file  

The following advice is offered to all instructors giving lessons on the law of armed conflict.

The target group     

The file was designed to be used for the instruction of officers at military academies, staff colleges and training establishments. It can be used in such a wide range of settings because instructors are advised, within the file and later in this introduction, on what should be included for a particular level of military experience or rank and what can be omitted. The file can also be used for senior non-commissio ned officers. It is not suitable for the instruction of soldiers. Officers should take what they have learnt from the file and produce their own lessons for soldiers under their command.

The teaching file and lessons in outline  

The file comprises:

  • a set of 12 lessons on the “land aspects” of the law of armed conflict. Sections covering the law applicable to sea and air warfare will be added in due course;
  • a video holder to contain “Fighting by the rules” or other video tapes you would like to use in class. A variety of films is available to order from COM/PMD at ICRC headquarters in Geneva;

  • a CD-ROM containing coloured illustrations to accompany each lesson. This is a “Powerpoint” presentation which must be shown using a suitable computer and projector.

The lessons encompass all levels of armed conflict and internal security operations. Each lesson is roughly timed to last 45 minute.



 User's guide

  Lesson 1  

Basic knowledge

– an introduction to the law of armed conflict 

PowerPoint presentation 1
Lesson 2

Integrating the law into military operations

– basic terminology and definitions 

PowerPoint presentation 2


 Lesson 3

Conduct of operations – Part A

– common features of the law applicable to all operations 

PowerPoint presentation 3


Lesson 4

Conduct of operations – Part B

– the law applicable to attack, defence, siege and manoeuvre phases of battle 

PowerPoint presentation 4 


Lesson 5


 PowerPoint presentation 5


Lesson 6

Command responsibility 

 PowerPoint presentation 6


Lesson 7 

Logistics and rear areas 

PowerPoint presentation 7


Lesson 8 


PowerPoint presentation 8 


  Lesson 9

Belligerent occupation 

PowerPoint presentation 9


Lesson 10

Non-international armed conflict 

PowerPoint presentation 10


  Lesson 11 

Internal security operations – Part A 

PowerPoint presentation 11 


  Lesson 12

Internal security operations – Part B 

PowerPoint presentation 12