June 16, 2009
The laws of war have historically developed in two separate normative frameworks. The first is known as jus ad bellum, and refers to the legality of the resort to war. This area is governed by the UN Charter, as well as international customary law. The second normative framework is called jus in bello, also known as International Humanitarian Law (IHL). This area regulates the manner in which the fighting is conducted, once the warring parties have entered into an armed conflict. IHL applies in situations of armed conflict, whether international or non-international in nature. Its main goal is to protect civilians and other categories of persons who do not participate in the hostilities, as well as certain objects, from harm inflicted during armed conflicts.1 To achieve this goal, IHL treaties and customary norms define which acts are legitimate and which are prohibited during armed conflicts. IHL applies equally to all parties to an armed conflict, regardless of whether they were justified in resorting to war in the first place.