IRRC No. 303

The formation of international humanitarian law

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To mark his seventieth birthday, Jean Pictet, Honorary Vice-President of the ICRC, gave a lecture at the University of Geneva on 16 November 1984 entitled “The formation of international humanitarian law”.A remarkable summary of the development of humanitarian law in the twentieth century, it concludes with remarks which go well beyond the original subject. They express his thoughts about the difficult relationships between humanitarian imperatives and military and political necessities and between idealism and pragmatism; reference is also made to everyone's responsibility to disseminate and apply a law which stems not only from humanity but also from common sense.

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