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close this bookLaw in Humanitarian Crises Volume I : How Can International Humanitarian Law Be Made Effective in Armed Conflicts? (European Commission Humanitarian Office)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
close this folderThe Laws of War: Problems of Implementation in Contemporary Conflicts
View the documentI. Introduction
close this folderII. Implementation Provisions and Mechanisms
View the document(introduction...)
View the document1. From 1899 to the Second World War
View the document2. The Post-Second World War Trials
View the document3. The Post-1945 Conventions: General
View the document4. The Post-1945 Conventions: Humanitarian, Monitoring and Fact-Pinding Tasks
View the document5. The Post-1945 Conventions: Punishment and Compensation
View the document6. Other Mechanisms of Implementation
View the document7. The Involvement of the United Nations
View the document8. The International Court of Justice
close this folderIII. Problems of Implementation in Wars since 1980
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View the document1. Iran-Iraq War 1980-88
View the document2. The 1990-91 Gulf Conflict
View the document3. The Wars in the Former Yugoslavia since 1991
View the document4. Civil War and Humanitarian Intervention in Somalia 1992-95
View the document5. International Conference, Geneva, August-September 1993
View the document6. Rwanda 1994
close this folderIV. General Issues
View the document1. Woodrow Wilson's Dilemma in 1914
View the document2. Successors' Responses to illegal Acts of Previous Regimes
View the document3. One Alternative Vision
close this folderV. Summary and Conclusions
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View the document1. Realist and Idealist Images of the Laws of War
View the document2. Still a World of States
View the document3. Humanitarianism as a Substitute for Policy
View the document4. Application to Non-International Conflicts
View the document5. Mines
View the document6. Limits of Compliance Provisions
View the document7. Trials
View the document8. International Criminal Court
View the document9. Reparations
View the document10. The United Nations
View the document11. Barbarians?
View the document12. A Set of Professional Military Standards?
View the document13. Need to Keep Our Own Houses in Order
View the document14. The Relation between Ius in Bello and Ius ad Bellum
View the document15. Taking Implementation Seriously
close this folderThe Implementation of International Humanitarian Law in the Framework of United Nations Peace-keeping Operations
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View the documentI. The United Nations and Humanitarian Law
View the documentII. The failure of the UN in Constituting Enforcement Instruments and the Practice of the Security Council of Authorizing Enforcement Action by States
View the documentIII. The Law of International Armed Conflicts and UN Enforcement Operations Under Chapter VII
View the documentIV. The Alternative Experience of Peace-keeping Operations
View the documentV. The 1994 Convention on the Safety of United Nations Personnel as an Instrument Proscribing Attacks Against United Nations Missions in the Framework of Ius ad Bellum and the Contextual Recognition of the Applicability of Ius in Bello
View the documentVI. The Applicability of International Humanitarian Law to Peace-keeping Operations in the Light of General Instruments of International Law
View the documentVII. The Practice of Specific Instruments Concerning the Applicability of International Humanitarian Law in Peace-keeping Operations
View the documentVIII. A Conclusion in the Light of the 1994 Convention on the Safety of United Nations Personnel
close this folderInternational Humanitarian Law and the Law of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentI. Introduction
close this folderII. The Inadequacy of International Refugee Law in Situations of Armed Conflict
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View the document1. The Need for Reconsidering the Refugee Definitions in International Law
View the document2. The Need for Improving the Substantive Rights of Refugees in Situations of Armed Conflict
View the document3. The Need for Improving International Co-operation with Regard to Refugees from Situations of Armed Conflict
View the document4. The Need for Further Consideration of International Action in Favour of Refugees from Situations of Armed Conflict
close this folderIII. The Inadequacy of International Law in Respect of Internally Displaced Persons
View the document(introduction...)
View the document1. Existing Norms of International Law Applying to Internally Displaced Persons
View the document2. The Lacunae of International Law in Respect of Internally Displaced Persons
View the document3. Possible Ways of Improving the Legal Situation of Internally Displaced Persons
View the document4. The Need for Further Consideration of International Action in Favour of Internally Displaced Persons
close this folderIV. The Need for Comprehensive Approaches
View the document(introduction...)
View the document1. Overcoming the Differentiation Between Externally Displaced Persons (Refugees) and Internally Displaced Persons
View the document2. Overcoming the Still Existing Differentiation in International Law as Regards Norms Applicable Before, During and After Situations of Armed Conflicts Resulting in Forced Movements of Persons
View the documentV. Conclusions and Recommendations
View the documentNotes on the Contributors
View the documentAbbreviations

8. The International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague has long had certain limited roles in respect of implementation of the laws of war. There are specific references to the ICJ in the 1948 Genocide Convention; and the 1954 Hague Cultural Property Convention. However, the Court's Statute, with its built-in limitations on what type of cases may be brought to it and by whom, is likely to mean that it will only have to look at a minority of issues concerning the laws of war.

Many cases brought before it have involved key laws of war matters: for example, the Corfu Channel case in 1949; and Nicaragua v. USA in 1986.79 Both these cases involved the principle that a state laying mines at sea is obliged to give notification of their location in order to protect the security of peaceful shipping. The Court now has the politically more sensitive and intellectually more complex issue of the legality of nuclear weapons to consider in the case brought by the World Health Organization and the UN General Assembly.

Many cases have involved issues analogous to, and potentially relevant to, laws of war problems. The United States Diplomatic and Consular Staff in Teheran case concerned the treatment of individuals under the protection of international law in an emergency situation. The Frontier Dispute (Burkina Faso/Mali) case raised the question of interim measures of protection. The 1971 Advisory Opinion on Namibia involved several germane matters, including the use of a sanction: termination of a League/UN mandate as a response to failures to observe certain rules of restraint.

In cases concerning the former Yugoslavia, the ICJ has been asked to answer very complex political questions touching on the laws of war. This is most notably so with the case brought by Bosnia and Herzegovina against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Case Concerning the Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This case is currently proceeding slowly.

In many of these cases on which it has reached decisions, the ICJ has performed a useful service by clarifying the content of the laws of war and their application to particular and often complex circumstances; and by publicizing fundamental principles which should inform the policymaking of states in matters relating to the use of force. However, there are limits to what the ICJ can achieve. Many states are reluctant to let cases concerning their own survival be settled by a distant conclave in The Hague. They may also worry about the slowness of some (but certainly not all) of its proceedings. When it is asked to comment in a general way on complex issues which are bones of contention among statesmen and lawyers - as in the nuclear weapons case currently before it - the Court's decision, whatever it is, may not be found universally persuasive, let alone decisive. The ICJ may look weak if it tries to avoid certain difficult issues because they are not justiciable, or because they are not quite the types of matter with which the Court is charged to deal. However, it may look even weaker if it reaches a decision which is then not fully implemented. In some cases it could be very difficult to secure implementation of the Court's decisions.