It was Henri Dunant, the father of the Red Cross, who began the process of codifying these ancient conventions into international humanitarian law. However, we may trace our current rules of war to ancient civilizations and religions. The First Geneva Convention established in 1864 mandated soldiers to cure the ill and injured on the battlefield if they could not do so themselves. In Europe, it has been adopted by 12 countries.
What Are the International Committee of the Red Cross Rules of War?
When it comes to determining what can and cannot be done in the course of hostilities, international humanitarian law or the “laws of war” serve as a guide. International humanitarian law’s fundamental goal is to preserve a semblance of civility in times of war through saving lives and alleviating suffering. As a result, the International Covenant on the Law of War (IHL) controls how conflicts are waged in order to achieve this goal. The laws of war are set in stone.
All 196 countries have ratified the Geneva Conventions, which form the foundation of International Law. International treaties with this degree of support are quite rare. Both governmental and non-state armed forces must adhere to IHL when fighting a war. The repercussions of breaking the rules of war are severe. States and international courts collect evidence and conduct investigations into alleged war crimes. War crimes can be prosecuted on an individual basis.
- Protect those who are not fighting, such as civilians, medical personnel, or aid workers.
- Protect those who are no longer able to fight, like an injured soldier or a prisoner.
- Prohibit targeting civilians. Doing so is a war crime.
- Recognize the right of civilians to be protected from the dangers of war and receive the help they need. Every possible care must be taken to avoid harming them or their houses or destroying their means of survival, such as water sources, crops, livestock, etc.
- Mandate that the sick and wounded have a right to be cared for, regardless of whose side they are on.
- Specify that medical workers, medical vehicles, and hospitals dedicated to humanitarian work can not be attacked.
- Prohibit torture and degrading treatment of prisoners.
- Specify that detainees must receive food and water and be allowed to communicate with their loved ones.
- Limit the weapons and tactics that can be used in war, to avoid unnecessary suffering.
- Explicitly forbid rape or other forms of sexual violence in the context of armed conflict.