Understanding IHL terminology and its underlying logic - watch the session recording


On 9 February, PHAP hosted the first event of 2018 of the Online Learning Series on Humanitarian Law and Policy, with a session on The language and logic of IHL: Common misconceptions, use, and misuse, gathering humanitarian and legal practitioners from all over the world. The event focused on the use and misuse of international humanitarian law (IHL) language by different actors in times of war and how this is often based on a lack of understanding of the fundamental logic of IHL.

The session featured a presentation by Theo Boutruche, Humanitarian Law and Policy Course Director with PHAP. Based on his experience of working on IHL and human rights law in conflict and post-conflict settings, he explored some common cases of misuse of IHL language by humanitarian institutions, such as employing the term of “innocent civilians” or using “indiscriminate attacks” in a way that does not reflect its specific legal meaning under IHL. He highlighted the risks associated to such misuses, for instance, the loss of credibility, legitimacy, and even effectiveness in negotiations. He underlined the importance for all humanitarian practitioners to keep in mind the underlying logic of IHL – balancing the principle of humanity versus military necessity – when referencing this set of legal norms in their work.

If you missed the event, you can watch or listen to the recording of Theo’s presentation and of the Q&A session at phap.org/9feb2018


27 March 2018: Is the attack on UN peacekeepers in DRC a war crime? The status of UN peacekeepers under IHL

Join us on 27 March for the next online session on Humanitarian Law and Policy with Marten Zwanenberg, Legal Counsel at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. The event will explore the legal and policy challenges related to UN peacekeepers operating in armed conflict. The session will focus on the recent attack on UN peacekeepers in North Kivu (DRC) in December 2017, with the UN Secretary-General calling the assault “the worst attack on U.N. peacekeepers in the organization’s recent history,” and “a war crime”. You can already register for this session at phap.org/27mar2018


Online Learning Series on Humanitarian Law and Policy

Understanding the key rules, principles, and norms of IHL and other legal frameworks – as well as the challenges related to their implementation, application, and enforcement – is critical to approaching humanitarian action responsibly and strategically. PHAP’s Online Learning Series on Humanitarian Law and Policy focus on timely issues providing an opportunity for continuous learning to legal practitioners as well as humanitarian practitioners in the PHAP membership seeking a more advanced understanding of laws and policies related to or affecting humanitarian assistance and protection in armed conflict.