ICRC Report on ‘IHL and the Challenges of Contemporary Armed Conflicts’

Recommitting to Protection in Armed Conflict on the 70th Anniversary of the Geneva Conventions

22 November 2019
ICRC Report on ‘IHL and the Challenges of Contemporary Armed Conflicts’

The Challenges Report provides an overview of some of the major challenges posed by contemporary armed conflicts for IHL with the aim to

  • generate broader reflection on those challenges; and
  • outline current or prospective ICRC action, positions, and areas of interest.

The 2019 report complements previous Challenges Reports, which the ICRC has been submitting to the quadrennial International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 2003,  2007, 2011 and 2015.

 Download the Report here in English, French, Spanish, and Arabic

 Main topics of the 2019 Challenges Report

Urbanization of warfare

  • The protection of civilians against the effects of hostilities; the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, and the protection of civilians during sieges.

 New technologies of warfare

  • Cyber operations during armed conflict; autonomous weapon systems; artificial intelligence and machine learning; the potential use of weapons in outer space; and legal reviews of new weapon systems.

The needs of civilians in increasingly long conflicts

  • The protection of internally displaced persons; the protection of persons with disabilities; and access to education during armed conflict.

IHL and non-State armed groups (NSAGs)

  • The applicability of IHL to conflicts with multiple NSAGs; the protection of persons living in territory controlled by NSAGs; and detention by NSAGs.

Terrorism, counterterrorism measures, and IHL

  • The applicability of IHL to fighting ‘terrorism’ and NSAGs designated as terrorists; counterterrorism measures and principled humanitarian action; and the status and protection of foreign fighters and their families.

Climate, armed conflict, and the natural environment

  • The effects of conflict on climate and the environment; the revised ICRC ‘Guidelines for the Protection of the Natural Environment in Situations of Armed Conflict’.

Enhancing respect for IHL

  • Guidelines on investigations in armed conflict; its ‘Roots or Restraint in War’ study; its work on ‘Support Relationships’, and its platform on ‘IHL in Action’.