Is International Humanitarian Law really a Law?


The rules regulating armed conflict have been called into question many times for various reasons. The main reason is that it is frequently violated. But this reason doesn’t suffice. It is a matter of fact that States and armed groups go to considerable lengths to adhere to the rules of International Humanitarian Law. The many States take legal instructions from their legal advisors while conducting military operations. A single violation of International Humanitarian Law may have disastrous consequences and attracts media attention. Moreover, violation of a rule does not deprive it of its legal character. Another criticism of International Humanitarian Law is that it has no sanctions when it is violated. But this is not true. There is no judicial mechanism to implement sanctions on violation of the law, but there are many other ways through which it is legally sanctioned, including international criminal tribunals, the United Nations security council and the human rights bodies. International disapproval in the form of world opinion is also a sanction that puts states under pressure to respect International Humanitarian Law.


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