Glossary of terms

ad hoc tribunals

the tribunals set up in the 1990s to prosecute violations of IHL in the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda (ICTR)

belligerent

a nation or person engaging in a war or conflict

combatant

a person entitled to take direct part in hostilities

civilian

non-combatants; people who are not members or their country’s armed forces, police force or militia.

conventions, agreements, and instruments

other names that can be used for treaties

despoil

to rob or deprive of valuables

Geneva law

the international law relating to the protection of persons in armed conflict – named after the city where the major documents on the protection of persons in armed conflict were drafted and adopted

guerrilla

member of an irregular armed force that fights a larger force using tactics of sabotage, harassment and unexpected attacks.

Hague law

the international law relating to the conduct of hostilities – named after the city where the major documents on the conduct of hostilities were drafted and adopted

High Contracting Party

the term given to States having signed and ratified a treaty – in this case, the Geneva Conventions and their Protocols

hors de combat(Fr)

out of combat – someone who is not taking part in hostilities

ICJ

the International Court of Justice, the primary judicial organ of the United Nations, based in The Hague, in the Netherlands

ICRC

the International Committee of the Red Cross, the private, Swiss-based humanitarian institution, tasked with the international mandate to protect the victims of armed conflict

insurgents

people who rise in revolt against existing authority

jus ad bellum (L)

the international law governing the use of force

jus in bello (L)

the international law governing the conduct of hostilities, justice in war

munitions

materials used in war, especially weapons and ammunition

ordnance

military weapons

opinio juris (L)

the belief that a practice is required by law

protocols

name often given to treaties that relate to or attach in some way to previously adopted treaties, page 4

pillage

robbing and looting, especially in war time

proscribe

forbid by law

protected person

a person who enjoys a special status under IHL, such as civilians, prisoners of war, and the wounded, sick or shipwrecked

punitive

inflicting punishment; intended as punishment

ratify

to sign or give formal consent to; make officially valid

reservation

modifying the scope of the legal obligation under a treaty

treaties

written international agreements between States, governed by international law

unilateral

involving or affecting one party only