IRRC No. 259

The “General Principles” of humanitarian law according to the International Court of Justice

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In its Judgment of 27 June 1986 in the case concerning “Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua”, the International Court of Justice dealt at length with some of the most vexed questions in humanitarian law. Although the Court had previously touched upon certain problems in this legal field, for example in the Corfu Channel case and that of the Pakistani Prisoners, this was the first time it expressed itself in detail on more general issues, notably on the customary nature of the “general principles” of humanitarian law.

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