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Pritzker Legal Research Center

Research Guide for IHRC at Addis Ababa School of Law (Ethiopia)


International humanitarian law (aka "laws of armed conflict" or "laws of war") is the set of rules that regulates conduct in armed conflict and seeks to limit effects of armed conflict. The main sources of IHL rules and regulations are treaties and customary international law. 


A treaty is “an international agreement concluded between States in written form and governed by international law, whether embodied in a single instrument or in two or more related instruments and whatever its particular designation." (VCLT, Art. 2) For assistance with treaty terminology, see the UN Treaty Glossary.

Key treaties relevant to international humanitarian law include: 

Customary International Law

Customary international law refers to rules of law derived from consistent state practice of international acts over time occurring out of a sense of legal obligation. Thus, a rule of customary international law is demonstrated by showing evidence of two elements: state practice (objective element) + and opinio juris (subjective element). 

  • ICRC Customary IHL Database: online version of ICRC's study on customary international humanitarian law with two sections: rules and practice.

Law of Armed Conflict

The law of armed conflict (aka international humanitarian law) is the body of international law that regulates behavior during armed conflict. 


Relevant subject headings to find books on the law of armed conflict include:

  • Humanitarian law
  • War (International law)
  • Military weapons (International law)



IHL & National Security

National security can be defined as "the ability of a state to cater for the protection and defence of its citizenry." [UN Chronicle, National Security vs. Global Security] The issue of whether protecting national security is a legitimate ground to detain and restrict the liberties of persons in armed conflict situations gives rise to international humanitarian law and human rights law questions. 

Books & Supplements

IHL & Human Rights Law

International human rights law deals with the protection of individuals and groups against violations of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights under international law. International human rights law is a public international law topic. Human rights law and IHL are complementary with some overlapping aims and objectives. Please see the ICRC's What is the difference between IHL and human rights law? webpage for an overview of their origins and scope of application.

Online Casebooks

Research Guides

Events & Lectures


IHL & Cyber Crimes

Cyber warfare refers to war that is waged within cyberspace rather than through military hostilities on the ground.