The IHL Digital App provides users with access to more than 75 treaties and other documents

Digitalizing the Geneva Conventions – giving greater access to the rules of war

On the occasion of the 70th Anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is using digital technology to give greater access to the Geneva Conventions, and other treaties and rules of international humanitarian law.
Article 12 August 2019

IHL Digital App

70 years ago today, on 12 August 1949, the Geneva Conventions were adopted in Geneva. Since then these Conventions have formed the cornerstone of international humanitarian law (IHL), and have been pivotal for the protection of people affected by armed conflicts worldwide.

Celebrating this milestone, the ICRC has launched a new digital app enabling users to browse key IHL treaties and texts, anywhere and anytime on a mobile or tablet device.

The IHL – International Humanitarian Law digital app provides professionals and other users with access to more than 75 treaties and other documents – most notably, the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, the ICRC’s original and updated Commentaries on the Conventions and Additional Protocols, and the rules of customary IHL identified by the ICRC’s 2005 Study. By providing easy access to IHL treaties and the customary IHL rules in various languages, the app aims to support the promotion and implementation of IHL worldwide.

The IHL Digital App provides users with access to more than 75 treaties and other documents

Designed for use in six languages, all legal treaty articles and customary rules featured on the IHL digital app can be opened in English and French, whether on or offline, with corresponding documents also available in Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Russian and Spanish.

The app also allows all included texts to be searched, saved, and shared directly from the app, helping support effective use in support of everyday IHL application.

The ICRC hopes this application can help increase the use of IHL by professionals in their humanitarian dialogue and negotiation, inform law and policy debate, support the teaching and promotion of IHL, and ultimately contribute to strengthening protection for everyone affected by armed conflict.

We're extremely pleased to be able to mark the 70th Anniversary of the Geneva Conventions by sharing this IHL digital app. It is appropriate that as we reflect on the global significance of this treaty – ratified by no less than 196 countries worldwide - the IHL digital app can provide a new digital avenue through which the Conventions and international humanitarian law can be promoted.

Etienne Kuster, Advisor for relations with academic circles, ICRC Law and Policy Forum, IHL Digital app project leader

IHL eLearning

Alongside the release of the IHL Digital App, earlier in the year the ICRC launched a new online IHL elearning course. The Introduction to International Humanitarian Law course is aimed at non-legal audiences, including humanitarian practitioners, policy-makers and other professionals who wish to learn the basics of IHL.

The course requires no prior legal knowledge. It features nine, flexible, independent modules which introduce basic key principles, including the application of IHL, the legal distinctions between international and non-international armed conflicts, the principles governing the means and methods of warfare, the protection of the civilian population and IHL implementation.

These modules build upon an earlier elearning offer, first developed by the ICRC in 2013, and updated to include interactive learning elements that build individual user learning paths, and measure progress in understanding of the law.

The course forms an important part of the ICRC’s continuous and ongoing work to improve education and understanding of IHL, and complements the presence-based courses, such as the IHL course for humanitarian practitioners and policy-makers in Geneva, offered to external humanitarian practitioners as part of the ICRC’s legal training activities.

How to access the course

The elearning course is freely available with the Humanitarian Leadership Academy, and now also available through DisasterReady.org.

Red Cross and Red Crescent national society staff, members, volunteers and partners may also access the course through the Learning Platform of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

ICRC staff can additionally access the course internally.

Further Information

See how else the ICRC is marking the 70th Anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, here

Discover the ICRC's highlight of learning resources dedicated to the Geneva Conventions' 70-year path protecting humanity in war

Learn more about the ICRC's legal training activities, here