International humanitarian law (IHL)/Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC)
International humanitarian law (IHL) is also known as the law of armed conflict (LOAC). IHL applies only at times of armed conflict, placing legal obligations on all warring parties that are designed to limit the inhumanity of warfare. The main source of IHL are the four Geneva Conventions and their additional protocols. The ICRC holds a specific mandate to promote and defend their development and compliance. The rights and protections of IHL rest upon a key distinction between combatants and civilians, where only the former is a legitimate target of attack. This core distinction yields key IHL principles, such as the prohibition on indiscriminate attacks and the doctrine of proportionality. IHL also contains specific protections, such as for medical personnel, hospitals, prisoners of war, cultural objects (e.g., mosques, churches) and objects essential to survival (e.g., fields, water sources).