Duration of the Application of International Humanitarian Law


The duration of the application of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) is determined by its nature and purpose. IHL, also known as the laws of war or the law of armed conflict, is a set of rules that seek to limit the effects of armed conflict and protect individuals who are not or are no longer taking part in hostilities.

The application of IHL begins when an armed conflict occurs. Armed conflicts can be classified into two main categories:

  1. International armed conflicts: These are conflicts between two or more states. IHL applies from the initiation of the armed conflict until its conclusion, including during periods of armistice, truce, or ceasefire.
  2. Non-international armed conflicts: These are conflicts that take place within the territory of a single state, between government forces and non-state armed groups, or between such groups. IHL applies from the moment the conflict reaches a certain level of intensity and until a peaceful settlement is reached and the situation returns to a pre-conflict state of peace.

The duration of IHL application is directly linked to the existence of an armed conflict. As long as armed hostilities continue, IHL remains applicable. It is important to note that IHL applies equally to all parties involved in the conflict, regardless of their legal status or legitimacy.

Additionally, specific rules within IHL may cease to apply once certain conditions are met. For example, combatants who are hors de combat (out of action) due to injury, sickness, or detention are entitled to protection under IHL until they are no longer hors de combat.

It is also worth mentioning that IHL has certain provisions that continue to apply even after the cessation of hostilities. For instance, the obligation to treat and care for wounded and sick persons, as well as the prohibition on the use of certain weapons, extends beyond the end of an armed conflict.

In summary, the application of International Humanitarian Law starts with the outbreak of an armed conflict and continues until the conflict ends, encompassing periods of truce or ceasefire. Its duration is determined by the existence of armed hostilities and the fulfillment of specific conditions outlined in IHL.

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