Human civilization has over the years resorted to violence to resort to any conflict be it our ancestors fighting for food or mating to now advance warfare for territory or historical rivalry. The word war implies a condition of contention or battle between states or nations. The conflict between the nations is otherwise called the world war which happens on an extremely enormous scope and has bigger annihilation and furthermore an immense misfortune to the economy and development of the nation and furthermore to individuals of the country who lose the conflict. The conflict not just makes a misfortune to the country that loses the conflict yet additionally to the country that has won the conflict on the grounds that there is a great deal of obliteration that happens during the conflict.


The effects of war in a nation are not only when it is waging but also in years to come. War drains a country’s wealth, food, resources, infrastructure, livestock, and many other things. Not to forget the casualties that happen. Among the masses, it leads to a state of anxiety, fear, and other psychological and emotional issues.


Just like the fire extinguisher was made years after the fire was discovered, war laws were made when the aftermath of war and brutalities were seen. After seeing the brutalities in the Second World War, Geneva Convention actually came into force in 1949 when the 4 treaties were revised and introduced.

War laws are the rules which the nations have accepted and describe what to do or not to do in a war[1]. These rules govern the warring parties and restrict them from doing certain acts. War laws are also known as international humanitarian laws.


War laws seek to protect civilians, prisoners of war from brutality or unnecessary suffering. These laws protect those who are not fighting and those who are not able to, like injured soldiers. Not only the civilians should not be harmed but also things necessary for their survival should be spared. War laws also spare and provides care for injured or sick ones regardless of side that they may be from whether theirs or not. Certain lethal weapons are also restricted during the time of war in various war laws.


There is a non-exhaustive list of treaty and convention which relates to international humanitarian law and are the source of international humanitarian law. The most important conventions are The Geneva Convention and The Hague Convention.


A talk about war laws is incomplete without Geneva Convention. The Geneva convention is four treaties and three protocols. It is a set of International laws which protects the ones who are not militants and those militants who can no longer be a part of the war[2]. In cases of any breaches, actions are taken. Stringent actions are also taken in the cases of grave breach.

The first convention was original with ten articles was made in 1864 by Henry Dunant[3] later in 1949 the convention was revised and the total number of articles became 64. First Geneva Convention talks about injured and sick personnel on land during the war, the second talks about navy personnel injured in the sea during the war, the third talks about prisoners of war and the last or fourth convention talks about civilians. Additional protocol one talks about international conflict, second additional protocol, on the other hand, talks about non-international conflict, while the third and the last additional protocol talks about emblems.


When Geneva law which was derived from Geneva Convention sought to protect the ones not taking part in hostilities or can no longer take part, on the other hand, Hague law sought to restrict method and the means war is waged, later though they got similar.

The Hague convention of 1899, which dealt with the customs of war inland, in its preamble, introduced Martens Clause[4]. In the clause, it talked about “principles of humanity”, in which it was stated that a human person is protected by the principles of humanity even if there might not exist laws for his case. The Hague convention 1899[5] and 1907[6]  also restricted certain weapons from war.


Customary laws are the laws which are originated from the custom or the general practices which are accepted as law[7]. International customary laws are not covered under the treaty but they are also a source of international humanitarian laws. Customary International humanitarian law covers the ambit of humanitarian law which is generally not covered under the conventions. Customary international laws are also binding to the states which are the warring party.


In contrast to bygone eras, wars are more vicious and all the more brimming with the blood of faultless individuals. They leave behind more misery and suffering. Also, it takes a country numerous years to reconstruct its economy and foundation that has been annihilated during the conflict

War laws or international humanitarian laws are necessary to reduce the suffering which is caused by war, especially now with the rapid development of weapons and warfare. the majority of the nations are equipped with tons of weaponry or furnished with atomic weapons like nuclear bombs. An assault by one country on another means a ruinous and perilous conflict into which different nations might bounce (and, in this way, the war might get raised or expanded). Thus, war is delayed for the weaker nations that happen sometime in the not-so-distant future. For the more powerful, nations, there is a concurred long or perpetual conflict occasion.

They serve by giving a clear distinction of what is allowed and what is not allowed in a war so as to save the innocent lives of the civilians or those who are not part of hostility. For the sake of humanity, they are a necessity and should be followed under all circumstances and should not be manipulated for the benefit of someone. War Laws seek to prevent the suffering and aftermath caused by world war I and world war II from ever happening again.

Author(s) Name: Prajanay Vyas (Student, Himachal Pradesh National Law University, Shimla)


[1]             ‘What are the rules of war and why do they matter?’ (International Committee Of The Red Cross, 19 October 2016) <https://www.icrc.org/en/document/what-are-rules-of-war-Geneva-Conventions> accessed 28 July 2021

[2]             ‘The geneva conventions of 1949 and their additional protocols’(International Committee of the Red Cross, 01 January 2014) <https://www.icrc.org/en/document/geneva-conventions-1949-additional-protocols> accessed 28 July 2021

[3]             ‘Summary of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Their Additional Protocols ’(American Red Cross, April 2011) <https://www.redcross.org/content/dam/redcross/atg/PDF_s/International_Services/International_Humanitarian_Law/IHL_SummaryGenevaConv.pdf>  accessed 28 July 2021

[4]             Rupert Ticehurst, ‘The Martens Clause and the Laws of Armed Conflict’ (International Committee Of The Red Cross, 30 April 1997) <https://www.icrc.org/en/doc/resources/documents/article/other/57jnhy.htm> accessed 28 July 2021

[5]             ‘Convention (II) with Respect to the Laws and Customs of War on Land and its annex: Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land. The Hague, 29 July 1899.’ (International Committee Of The Red Cross) <https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/ihl/INTRO/150>  accessed 28 July 2021

[6]             International Committee Of The Red Cross, Rules of International Humanitarian Law and other rules relating to the conduct of hostilities (ICRC, 2005) 13-27

[7]             ‘customary international humanitarian law’ (International committee of the red cross, 29 October 2010) <https://www.icrc.org/en/document/customary-international-humanitarian-law-0>   accessed 28 July 2021

Related Posts