International humanitarian law (IHL) aims to regulate the behavior of those involved in armed conflict. Though formally it binds states and armed groups, it also has great practical relevance to humanitarian actors. It provides a set of principles, rules, and norms that govern a myriad of activities, including the conduct of hostilities, detention operations, and humanitarian assistance efforts. As a legal framework, it is relevant to a range of activities in the humanitarian sector – for operations, research, advocacy, communications, etc.
This session looked at examples of practical situations in which an understanding of IHL is critical for those working in the humanitarian field, and addressed the following questions:
- What is IHL, what is its aim, and why is it important for humanitarian actors to understand?
- Under what conditions does IHL apply and what are the consequences of its application?
- What are the main sources of IHL? Who has rights and obligations under IHL?
- What is the relationship of IHL to other bodies of law relevant to humanitarian practice, particularly human rights law and refugee law?
This online session, the first in a series of regular online events bringing together humanitarian practitioners for brief expert lectures and open Q&A, provided an overview of IHL with a focus on its significance for humanitarian actors.