What is this website about?

How does law protect in war? (the "Online Casebook") is an academic platform adapted from the original reference Casebook authored by Marco Sassòli, Antoine Bouvier and Anne Quintin, and published by the ICRC. It is intended to support teaching of international humanitarian law (IHL) in universities in an interactive way, and based on contemporary practice. The Law section features a general outline presenting IHL in 14 chapters. It contains comprehensive bibliographic resources and links each theme to a range of related case studies and documents. The Practice section comprises 325 case studies and documents regrouped either by theme or by region, or by type of document. They allow practice-oriented learning of IHL rules and interactive discussions through series of questions. The Pedagogical Resources section provides useful advice on how to teach IHL, as well as 29 model course outlines and other useful resources. The A to Z section presents 418 notions linked to IHL, their legal sources, the case studies where they are addressed, as well as bibliographic resources to delve further into those notions. A search engine allows users to find rapidly the relevant pedagogical material they need on the platform. In 2014, a first version of the online platform was launched.

What are the roles of the authors and the ICRC on this platform?

Marco Sassòli, Antoine Bouvier, Anne Quintin and Julia Grignon are the four authors of How does law protect in war?. They review the content of the platform and update it regularly in partnership with the University of Geneva, Faculty of Law, the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and the Clinique de droit international pénal et humanitaire, Faculté de droit, Université Laval. The ICRC provides technical and promotional support to maintain and update the online platform.
As reminded by the Disclaimer and Copyright, it is important to note that neither the ICRC, nor the authors can be identified with the opinions expressed in the cases and documents presented on the platform, which solely aim to encourage practice-oriented teaching of IHL through documents and resources illustrating contemporary practice.

To which users is it addressed?

How does law protect in war? is addressed primarily to university lecturers. It can also be useful for professionals and persons interested in armed conflicts in general, who appreciate the platform's comprehensive resources in IHL, related branches of international law and issues touching upon armed conflicts. The Online Casebook was visited by 227’422 users in 2020.

How to use “How does law protect in war?”

How does law protect in war? aims to connect international humanitarian law (IHL) with field practice through teaching. While it can be used in many different ways, one possible pedagogical approach (deductive) is for lecturers to start with the detailed teaching outline in “The Law”. There, they will find ideas to structure parts of their own course on 14 different IHL subjects. Each subject’s outline starts with an expandable Chapter Bibliography that lecturers can use to prepare or adapt their lessons on each topic, as well as recommend to their students as general readings. In addition, chapter sections in “The Law” provide case studies illustrating each sub-topic, along with a specific bibliography. Those resources allow lecturers preparing their course, so that they can address each sub-topic in depth with students. Links embedded in the title of each case study will help lecturers browse them quickly to pick up those, which they find most relevant for each lesson. In particularly long case studies, specific paragraphs are anchored, so that lecturers and students may access specific parts of those instantly through separate links. This can be seen for instance in the below-underlined case study pertaining to the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights.  
Example structure

Another approach (inductive) can be, through “The Law”, to have students preparing a case study pertaining to a certain subject individually or in group, before the lecturer ask them questions in class. This will allow the lecturer to teach the subject matter through a case-study based structured discussion. In that respect, questions from the case study discussion at the end of it can be picked by the lecturer to reflect various points of the outline pertaining to the topic at stake in “The Law”.

Example discussion question

Links to external websites

The platform contains links to publicly accessible external websites and documents. Neither the ICRC, nor the authors, are responsible for the maintenance or content of third-party websites that are quoted or reproduced in full or in part on the platform.

How should we quote content from How does law protect in war?

Any content from this platform should be quoted as follows:
"M. Sassòli, A. Bouvier, A. Quintin, J. Grignon, How does law protect in war?, ICRC, Geneva, 2014: [link leading to the specific content which is quoted] (consulted [date on which such content was accessed])."

What has been improved in this online version?

 The platform has been modernized with features allowing smoother consultation of each page:
  • a table of content moves along when the user scrolls down the content of the page and allows rapid access to various parts of displayed content
  • a thread on top of pages makes navigation throughout each section smoother
  • relevant themes addressed in case studies and documents are tagged on the side of the page, for easy thematic navigation
  • a scrolling menu on top of each page gives instant access to ICRC IHL reference databases: Customary IHL; Treaties, State Parties and Commentaries; National Implementation of IHL
  • the platform is responsive: display is adapted for tablets and smartphones alike
  • a print-friendly button allows users to display each page in PDF and print it accordingly (see Disclaimer and Copyright for possible use of materials)
  • the original How does law protect in war? Casebook can be downloaded for free in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Spanish and Russian through a scrolling menu on top of each page (please note that the content is not necessarily the same between the different language versions and compared to the online platform)
  • a number of technical issues have been corrected and improved
In terms of content, new case studies have been added for the launch of the platform (see related Highlight: IHL, Protecting Human Life and Dignity in XXIst Century Wars) and the platform will be regularly updated with new content (see below ‘What’s next?’).

Bibliographic resources in “The Law” and “A to Z”

Several bibliographic resources, each serving a specific purpose, have been updated as follows:
  • The chapter entitled “General Bibliography on IHL” provides a bibliography including main IHL reference books covering the entire branch;
  • The “Chapter Bibliographies”, which can be found at the beginning of every chapter under “The Law”, contain general texts covering the topic of the chapter itself;
  • The “Specific Bibliographies”, which follow the introductory texts of every chapter under “The Law”, contain readings summarizing the chapter’s topic, general readings on the topic that are not suggested under the “Chapter Bibliography”, as well as readings on more specific issues not attributable to a section or subsection. They are divided into two sub-categories:
    • Suggested readings: a selection of readings summarizing the chapter’s topic and covering other relevant issues not attributable to a section or subsection;
    • Further readings: a more inclusive selection of readings to explore other notions discussed in the introductory texts from different angles;
  • The “Specific Bibliographies”, which follow the different sections or subsections of every chapter under “The Law”, contain readings on the issues dealt with in the relevant section or subsection. They are divided into two sub-categories:
    • Suggested readings: a selection of readings covering the main issues discussed in the relevant sections and subsections;
    • Further readings: a more inclusive selection of readings to explore other notions linked to such issues from different angles.
Specific bibliographies can also be found under various references in “A to Z”.

What will happen next?

 The platform is regularly promoted on various channels, including social media. We invite users to provide their feedback, suggestions and possible contributions by using the feedback button. Since 2017, How does law protect in war? is regularly updated with new case studies presented in thematic highlights, new and updated A to Z notions, new Pedagogical Resources and updated introductory texts in The Law section.