Introduction to International Humanitarian Law

International humanitarian law (IHL) is a set of rules which seeks, for humanitarian reasons, to limit the effects of armed conflict. IHL protects persons who are not or are no longer participating in the hostilities and restricts the means and methods of warfare. International humanitarian law is also known as the law of war or the law of armed conflict.

IHL is part of international law, which is the body of rules governing relations between States. International law is contained in agreements between States – treaties or conventions, in customary rules, which consist of State practice considered by them as legally binding, and in general principles.

Singapore Red Cross has been organising the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Debate for youths since 2005.

IHL Finals 2015
Photo by Rhea Barrios

“While our nation is safe and peaceful, incidents such as the recent arrest of a radicalised Singaporean teen warn us on the need to be vigilant and against being complacent. Furthermore, the increasingly globalised and interconnected world mean that none of us is really spared from the effects of conflicts and acts of terrorism, either directly or indirectly. It is therefore, important that our young people understand and appreciate the relevance of International Humanitarian Law,” said Mr Benjamin William, Secretary General / CEO of Singapore Red Cross. “These debates bring alive many of the issues related to the operation of IHL in a complex and often violent global environment.”