International Humanitarian Law

Stronger Respect for International Humanitarian Law Needed: NGO Action Required.

Featured Image: Foto de Pavel Danilyuk:

The carnage in the Ukraine conflict and the continued actions by ethnic militias in the Democratic Republic of Congo has highlighted the fact that the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols are not bedside reading for many people, even those engaged in war.  There are too many warlords whose only claim to the charisma of leadership is the ruthlessness with which they wield the gun.

Geneva Convention.

Since the adoption of the first Geneva Convention in 1864, international humanitarian law has evolved in stages resulting from the evolution of methods of warfare and the changing nature of armed conflicts.  Since the adoption of the four Geneva Conventions for the protection of war victims in 1949, the nature of armed conflicts has changed considerably, especially by the increased number of armed conflicts within a State.  It is currently estimated that there are 120 ethnic militias active in the eastern area of the Democratic Republic of Congo.  There are many cases  in the country  of cruel and degrading treatment of persons, enforced disappearances and arbitrary executions.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Image: Movement militiamen M23 and Type 85 heavy machine gun. By Al Jazeera English, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Democratic Republic of Congo: Increasing Tensions and Danger of Violence.

Men were killed and women divided among the victors.

I had participated in an International Committee of the Red Cross study group during the Nigeria-Biafra War (1967-1970). The aim of the study group was to see if there were traditional African values and practices which could be relied upon for better treatment of war prisoners and civilians.  There were no such practices. Traditionally, men were killed and women divided among the victors.  The only exceptions were conflicts within a clan. In chronic conflicts, there were techniques of symbolic or material restitution and ceremonies of reconciliation. Thus our study group had recommended the need for clear universal standards which can be applied in all cultures and in all types of conflicts.

Soldiers have a tendency to shoot first and read later.

Nevertheless, there have always been problems of the application of international humanitarian law.  Soldiers have a tendency to shoot first and read later.  Many people do not know that international humanitarian law exists and that they are bound by its norms.  Thus, there is a need for greater dissemination  of information through education and training to create a climate conducive to the observation of internationally recognized norms.  Such educational and training activities can be usefully undertaken by non-governmental organizations – an urgent need.

International Humanitarian Law

 Image: Ukrainian diaspora in Brussels protests the Russian invasion, Processed with VSCO with acg preset. By Bartosz Brzezinski from Chicago, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Upholding International Humanitarian Law in Times of Armed Conflict: A World Citizen Appeal.


René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.


Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

Education in Tibet.

Featured Image: Foto de 和 平 en Unsplash. 17 Feb 2023 –   Three United Nations Human Rights Council Special Rapporteurs have recently highlighted the quality and methods of education of Tibetan students.  Farida…

When will we meet again?

Featured Image: Picture By Boris Ulzibat: In an article “Tensions in the Asian Trinity: China, Japan, U.S.A.” I noted that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was to visit Beijine…

Leave a Comment