"How does international humanitarian law (IHL) develop?" is a question, seemingly simple, loaded with even more questions within it, touching upon the history of IHL, its current status and future prospects. Is it developed only by States? Then what is the role and involvement of non-state actors? Is it a normative movement starting in the mid-19th century, or have rules restraining behaviour in warfare always been part of culture and religions since time immemorial? Is IHL limited to the formally binding sources of treaties and customary law? If not, what do we make of the various non-binding norms in IHL and how "non-binding" are they really, if they can even be considered law to begin with? Finally: how to assess the trend of the last few decades in which such non-binding norms have become in many instances the preferred instrument for States to move forward in terms of IHL development?
This event marks the launch of the International Review of the Red Cross' double-edition entitled "How international humanitarian law develops". Through some thirty contributions, authors reflect on these questions as far as the past, present and future of the development of IHL is concerned. Authors include the most reputable scholars and practitioners of international humanitarian law, international criminal law and international human rights law. The edition also includes, as a special feature, an interview with Peter Maurer, the former President (2012-2022) of the ICRC.