What is the difference between IHL and IHRL?

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IHL and IHRL are two distinct legal frameworks that deal with different aspects of international human rights and humanitarian law. Here’s an overview of the differences between the two:

  1. International Humanitarian Law (IHL):
  • Scope: IHL, also known as the law of armed conflict or the law of war, primarily applies during armed conflicts, whether international or non-international in nature.
  • Purpose: IHL seeks to regulate the conduct of armed forces and protect individuals who are not or are no longer taking part in hostilities, such as civilians, prisoners of war, and the wounded.
  • Focus: IHL focuses on establishing rules and principles to mitigate the suffering caused by armed conflicts, safeguarding the fundamental rights of those affected, and limiting the means and methods of warfare.
  • Sources: The key sources of IHL include the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols, customary international law, and relevant treaty law.
  1. International Human Rights Law (IHRL):
  • Scope: IHRL applies in peacetime and during armed conflicts, encompassing all situations, not just armed conflicts. It protects individuals’ rights and freedoms from violations by states and non-state actors.
  • Purpose: IHRL aims to ensure the protection and promotion of human rights, dignity, and fundamental freedoms for all individuals, without discrimination, through legal norms and standards.
  • Focus: IHRL addresses a broad range of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights, such as the right to life, freedom of expression, equality, and non-discrimination.
  • Sources: IHRL is primarily derived from international human rights treaties, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as customary international law.

In summary, IHL focuses on regulating the conduct of armed forces and protecting individuals in armed conflicts, while IHRL focuses on protecting and promoting human rights in all circumstances, both in times of peace and during armed conflicts. These frameworks operate in parallel, but their specific purposes, scopes, and sources of law are different.

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