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The use of force in international law
The use of force in international law

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2 The law of armed conflict

In Section 1 we looked at the rules governing the resort to force by states in international relations (jus ad bellum – law on on the use of force).This section looks at a specific branch of international law, which aims to regulate the conduct of states and individuals during armed conflict: international humanitarian law (IHL) (jus in bello – law of war).

The study of IHL will enable you to understand how international law responds to situations where the force has been used (or where states are engaged in war) as well as what practical ramifications the rules of IHL have for the protection of all actors involved in warfare.

Activity 2

Consider the following questions:

  • a.Is anything allowed in war?
  • b.Why does international law seek to regulate the conduct of warfare?
  • c.What actors are involved in armed conflict and what type of protection, in your opinion, should be afforded to them?
  • d.Can you think of any challenges to the regulation of the conduct in war in the contemporary world?


In considering these issues, you may find it helpful to watch the following short film from the International Committee of the Red Cross: International Humanitarian Law: A Universal Code. It is approximately 13 minutes long.

Download this video clip.Video player: w821_2013e_u6_vid001_320x176.mp4
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