International humanitarian law and the challenges of contemporary armed conflicts

31 October 2015

32nd  International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, Switzerland, 8-10 December 2015. Document prepared by the International Committee of the Red Cross

This is the fourth report on international humanitarian law (IHL) and the challenges of contemporary armed conflicts prepared by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (International Conference). The first three reports were submitted to the International Conferences held in 2003, 2007 and 2011. These reports aim to provide an overview of some of the challenges posed by contemporary armed conflicts for IHL, to generate broader reflection on those challenges and to outline ongoing or prospective ICRC action, positions and interest.

Table of contents

I. Introduction

II. Applicability of IHL: Selected issues

  1) The beginning and end of IHL applicability
  2) The geographic reach of IHL applicability
  3) The applicability of IHL to terrorism and counterterrorism

III. IHL and multinational forces

IV. The protective scope of IHL: Selected issues

   1) Humanitarian access and assistance
   2) The specific protection of medical personnel and objects

V. Use of force under IHL and IHRL

VI. Detention in armed conflict

VII. Means and methods of warfare

  1) New technologies of warfare
     i) Cyber warfare
     ii) Autonomous weapon systems
   2) The use of explosive weapons in populated areas
   3) Responsible arms transfers
   4) Nuclear weapons

VIII. Private military and security companies

Report on international humanitarian law and the challenges of contemporary armed conflicts

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