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Humanity: What is it and how does it influence international law?

31-12-2001 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 844, by Robin M. Coupland


Robin Coupland
is a surgeon and former co-ordinator of ICRC surgical activities. He now works as the ICRC ’s adviser on armed violence and the effects of weapons.— Paper written as part of the author ’s course work for a Graduate Diploma in International Law at the University of Melbourne, Australia. 

For the author, the principle of humanity includes the possibility and the will to restrain the capacity for armed violence and limit its effects upon security and health. Humanity thus understood encompasses humanitarianism, morality, development, human rights and human security, and is therefore one of the main sources of international law in general and international humanitarian law in particular. In this article the author describes the consequences of the close link between humanity and international law.  

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