Who is bound by IHL?


IHL, or International Humanitarian Law, also known as the laws of war or the law of armed conflict, is a body of international law that applies during armed conflicts. It aims to protect individuals who are not or are no longer taking part in hostilities, and to limit the means and methods of warfare.

The primary entities bound by IHL are:

  1. States: IHL applies to states or countries that are engaged in an armed conflict, whether international or non-international. International armed conflicts occur between two or more states, while non-international armed conflicts take place within the territory of a single state between the government and non-state armed groups or between such groups themselves.
  2. Non-state armed groups: IHL also applies to non-state armed groups involved in non-international armed conflicts. These groups may include rebel forces, guerrilla movements, or other organized armed groups that are not part of a state’s armed forces.
  3. Individuals: IHL applies to individuals who are taking part in an armed conflict. This includes members of the armed forces of a state, members of non-state armed groups, as well as civilians who find themselves in areas affected by armed conflict.

It’s important to note that even though IHL primarily applies to states and non-state armed groups, it also places obligations on individuals, such as combatants and civilians, to respect and comply with its provisions. These individuals can be held accountable for violations of IHL under domestic or international law.

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