IRRC No. 287

The humanitarian dimension of war — Protection of the individual, whether military or civilian

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Recently, a number of armed conflicts have broken out in Europe or not far away: armed conflicts between States — the Gulf War, for example, authorized by UN Security Council resolution 678 — or wars of national liberation, such as the armed conflict in Yugoslavia or the revolt in Kurdistan. Whether or not the use of force was legitimate in each of these situations, and even though the classic notion of a “just war” no longer exists, all parties to any armed conflict have a moral, legal and humanitarian obligation to abide by the laws and customs of war in the conduct of hostilities and indeed throughout the entire conflict.

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