What is the difference between IHL and IHRL?


IHL and IHRL are abbreviations for two distinct bodies of law that address different aspects of human rights and humanitarian issues. Here’s a breakdown of the differences between the two:

  1. International Humanitarian Law (IHL):
    International Humanitarian Law, also known as the Law of Armed Conflict or the Law of War, is a set of rules that primarily governs the conduct of armed conflicts and aims to protect individuals who are not or are no longer participating in hostilities, such as civilians and prisoners of war. IHL applies specifically to situations of armed conflict and seeks to limit the suffering caused by warfare. It is primarily concerned with regulating the means and methods of warfare and has its basis in customary international law and international treaties, such as the Geneva Conventions.
  2. International Human Rights Law (IHRL):
    International Human Rights Law encompasses a body of legal principles, norms, and standards that promote and protect human rights on a global scale. It applies during both times of peace and times of armed conflict and is applicable to all individuals, regardless of their nationality or the presence of armed conflict. IHRL sets forth the rights and freedoms that every person is entitled to, such as the right to life, liberty, and security of person, freedom of expression, and freedom from torture, discrimination, and slavery. The primary instruments of IHRL are international treaties, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and various regional human rights conventions.

In summary, IHL focuses on regulating armed conflicts and minimizing harm to individuals directly affected by warfare, while IHRL sets forth broad human rights standards that apply universally, irrespective of the presence or absence of armed conflict. Both bodies of law aim to protect and promote the rights and dignity of individuals, but they operate in different contexts and have distinct focuses.

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