International Humanitarian Law, also known as the Laws of War or Law of Armed Conflict, regulates international and non-international armed conflict. International Humanitarian Law consists of rules applicable during armed conflict. These rules also apply to a situation of occupation arising from armed conflict. Its rules can be found in treaties and international customary law. The main objective of these rules is to provide protection to the civilian population and civilian objects as well as to those persons who are no longer taking part in the hostilities. In addition, International Humanitarian Law rules aim to restrict the methods and means of warfare used during the hostilities by the parties involved. The International Committee of the Red Cross, a non-governmental humanitarian organization with its headquarter in Geneva, is the primary institution for International Humanitarian Law. Established in 1863, the initiatives of the ICRC have greatly contributed to the development of the laws of war. The ICRC also monitors the implementation of International Humanitarian Law rules and norms. States that have signed and ratified the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 and 2005 have given the ICRC a mandate to protect victims of international and internal armed conflicts.

This Research Guide is intended as a starting point for research in the field of International Humanitarian Law. It provides the basic materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Selective Bibliography section. Links to the PPL Catalogue are inserted. The Library's subject heading (keyword) International Humanitarian Law is instrumental for searching through the Catalogue. Special attention is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, this Research Guide features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest. Updated regularly in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Library in Geneva.


Sources of international law



UN Declarations and Resolutions

Reference works

Selected books and articles

For all peer-reviewed articles in the PPL Catalogue, click here.

Periodicals, serial publications