The term ‘humanitarian law’ is of relatively recent origin.The Geneva Conventions of 1949 didn’t use the term ‘HUMANITARIAN Law’; they mentioned only ‘Humanitarian Activities’ and ‘Humanitarian organisations’.Although publicists started using the term ‘HUMANITARIAN LAW’ in the early 1950s,the term appeared perhaps for the first time in 1965 in Resolution XXVIII of the XXII International Red Cross Conference held in Vienna. Humanitarian law deals with those matters which have an impact of armed conflict on the life,personal integrity and liberty of human beings.  The aim of Humanitarian law are :

A . To Protect Person who are not or are no longer, directly engaged in hostilities such as sick and wounded,Shipwrecked,Prisonerss of war and Civilian

B. To limit the effects of Violence in fighting and to restrict or prohibit those means and methods of warfare which are indiscriminate in character or cause unnecessary suffering to attainment of the objectives of the conflict.

Source of international humanitarian law are treaties and customary rules.In 20th century a number of treaties have been concluded to protect the victims from of armed conflict and to prohibits or restrict the methods and mean of warfare.Most important amongst them are the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and its Additional Protocols. Rules of war which are based on humanitarian considerations or motivations are called  humanitarian law.


Although rules of HUMANITARIAN LAW may be found in Bible,Quran and Dharama in the Vedic Period in India, more specifically in Manu Smriti, a systematic development of modern humanitarian law in armed conflicts originated in the second half of the nineteenth century when the need was felt to humanize warfare and to protect the victim of armed conflicts . Geneva Convention of 22 August, 1864 was the first Convention Which provided for certain rules regarding the condition of wounded armies in the field. The Convention provided for

1.The immunity from capture and destruction of all establishments for the treatment of wounded and sick soldiers and their personnel.

2. The impartial reception and treatment of all combatants

3.The protection of civilians rendering aid to the wounded

4. Recognition of the Red cross symbol as a means of identifying person and equipment covered by the agreement.


In 1899,the so called Peace Conference at the Hague was convened on the personal initiative of the Emperor Nicholas II of Russia. The conference met from May 18 to July 29 , 1899 and 26 nations took part in the conference.

• Firstly, the convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes

•Secondly,the Convention with respect to the law and customs of war on land

•Thirdly,the Convention concerning the adaptation of the Maritime Warfare.

The second Hague Peace Conference of 1907 though first proposed by U.S.President Roosevelt was officially convened by Nicholes II . The Conference met From June 15 to October 18,1907 and was attended by the representatives of 44 states, Produced thirteen Convention.

The  Hague Convention No.IV of 1907 concerning the Regulations Respecting the Law and Customs of War on Land attempted to humanize warfare and to codify the laws of war.


During the Second World War Shocking Crimes were committed against the humanity.A regime of complete lawlessness and tyranny was established.Warring Parties had barbously negated human values and dignity.At the end of the war,atomic bombs were dropped over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United states Air force,and the Germans made use of V‐2 bombs fired from the continent against England. Therefore,it was decided to extend and codify the existing provisions in a International Red Cross Conference in Stockholm held on August 23 to 30 , 1948.The Conference developed four Conventions which were approved in Geneva on August 12,1949.These Conventions were :

1. Convention for the Ambelioration of the Condition of the wounded,sick in Armed Forces in the field.

2.Convention for Amelioration of the condition of the wounded,sick and ship wrecked members of the armed forces at sea.

3. Convention Relation to the Treatment of the Prisoners of war.

4.Convention Relative to the Protection of civilians person in Time of war.

All the above Convention came into force on October 21,1959.One of the purposes for the convention was to reduce or limit the suffering of individuals,  and to circumscrible the area within which the savagery of armed conflict is permissible. These Conventions provided a number of humanitarian rules to various classes of person such as the wounded and sick in armed forces in the field as well as at sea,prisoners of war and Civilian persons in time of war.


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