IRRC No. 320

The 1977 Protocols: a landmark in the development of international humanitarian law

Reading time 6 min read
Download PDF
This article is also available in

By adopting on 8 June 1977 the two Protocols additional to the 1949 Conventions, the States meeting in Geneva brought to a successful conclusion four years of arduous negotiations. The Protocols took four years, the Conventions only four months. Why such a huge difference?In 1949, once the initial period of instinctive rejection of anything related to war had passed, a natural consensus emerged regarding the main evils which needed to be banned by law. Besides, the delicate subject of the rules governing the conduct of hostilities — the law of The Hague, as it is called, also part of humanitarian law — was left out of the discussions. It was also a time when the political map of the world was fairly monolithic, in the sense that the North still dominated the South, and East-West tensions had not yet escalated.

Continue reading #IRRC No. 320

More from René Kosirnik