International humanitarian law is the branch of international law that seeks to impose limits on the destruction and suffering caused by armed conflict. It establishes, in the words of Art. 22 of the Hague Regulations, that “the right of belligerents to adopt means of injuring the enemy is not unlimited.” A group of general and fundamental principles are central in pursuing this aim to limit the effects of armed conflicts:

See Humanity; Military Necessity; Martens ClauseProportionalityDistinctionSuperfluous injury or unnecessary suffering;





ABI-SAAB Rosemary, “The ‘General Principles’ of Humanitarian Law According to the International Court of Justice”, in IRRC, No. 259, July 1987, pp. 367-375.   BLISHCHENKO Igor P., “Les principes du droit international humanitaire”, in Studies and Essays on International Humanitarian Law and Red Cross Principles in Honour of Jean Pictet, Geneva/The Hague, ICRC/M. Nijhoff, 1984, pp. 291-300.   CHETAIL Vincent, “The Fundamental Principles of Humanitarian Law through the Case Law of the International Court of Justice”, in Refugee Survey Quarterly, Vol. 21/3, 2002, pp. 199-211.   DUPUY Pierre-Marie, “Les ‘considérations élémentaires d’humanité’ dans la jurisprudence de la Cour internationale de Justice”, in Mélanges en l’honneur de Nicolas Valticos, Paris, Pedone, 1999, pp. 117-130.   GARDAM Judith, “The Contribution of the International Court of Justice to International Humanitarian Law”, in LeidenJournal of International Law, Vol. 14-2, 2001, pp. 349-365.   GREIG D.W., “The Underlying Principles of International Humanitarian Law”, in Australian Yearbook of International Law, Vol. 9, 1985, pp. 46-85.   McCORMACK Timothy L.H., “A non liquet on Nuclear Weapons – The ICJ Avoids the Application of General Principles of International Humanitarian Law”, in IRRC, No. 316, January-February 1997, pp. 76-91 MERON Theodor, “The Humanization of Humanitarian Law”, in AJIL, Vol. 94/2, 2000, pp. 239-278.   MERON Theodor, “The Martens Clause, Principles of Humanity and Dictates of Public Conscience”, in AJIL, Vol. 94/1, 2000, pp. 78-89.   PICTET Jean, Development and Principles of International Humanitarian Law, Geneva, Dordrecht, Henry-Dunant Institute, M. Nijhoff, 1985, 99 pp.