The Encyclopedia is a project of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights launched on 2 December 2013. The Enyclopedia aims to provide accurate, up-to-date information on weapons, the effects of their use, and their regulation under public international law, in a format that is accessible to non-specialists.+ Find out more
Additional Protocol II aims to develop and supplement Article 3 common to all four 1949 Geneva Conventions, the only provision of international humanitarian law (IHL) applicable to non-international armed conflicts before the adoption of Protocol II. According to its Article 1, the Protocol applies to armed conflicts which take place 'in the territory' of a state party 'between its armed forces and dissident armed forces or other organized armed groups which, under responsible command, exercise such control over a part of its territory as to enable them to carry out sustained and concerted military operations and to implement th[e] Protocol.'Protocol II, thus, applies in a narrower set of circumstances than Common Article 3. The Protocol does not apply to 'situations of internal disturbances and tensions, such as riots, isolated and sporadic acts of violence and other acts of a similar nature, as not being armed conflicts.'
The final version of 1977 Additional Protocol II does not contain provisions specific to means or methods of warfare, although such provisions were included in earlier drafts. Article 4 on 'Fundamental guarantees' contains a prohibition on ordering that there shall be no survivors (the rule on giving quarter), which has implications for the legality of some means or methods of warfare. So do the prohibitions on torture, humiliating, degrading or cruel treatment and acts of terorism, also contained in Article 4.
According to Article 13 of the Protocol, 'The civilian population and individual civilians shall enjoy general protection against the dangers arising from military operations'. To give effect to this protection, the Protocol provides:
The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack. Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited.
[This entry is under construction.]
Last updated on: 15 September 2015