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Various mechanisms and approaches for implementing international humanitarian law and protecting and assisting war victims

30-06-2009 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 874, by Toni Pfanner

This article presents an overview of the mechanisms for improving the lot of people affected by armed conflict. Some are anchored in international humanitarian law, but increasingly, multiple actors contribute to implementing this law outside its original implementation framework. This may result in different approaches to ensuring compliance with international humanitarian law: judicial recourse, public pressure on parties to a conflict, or even recommendations of the use of force. Nevertheless, humanitarian action unattached to any political agenda is often the only means of improving the situation of the victims of armed conflicts.


Dr Toni Pfanner is Editor-in-Chief of the International Review of the Red Cross. He has directed several ICRC delegations in the field and headed the ICRC’s Legal Division.