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Chapter

Cover International Law

15. The law of armed conflict  

This chapter assesses the law of armed conflict. The right to resort to armed force, known as ‘jus ad bellum’, is a body of law that addresses the permissibility of entering into war in the first place. Despite the restrictions imposed by this body of law, it is clear that international law does not fully forbid the use of force, and instances of armed disputes between and within States continue to exist. Consequently, a second, older body of law exists called ‘jus in bello’, or the law of armed conflict, which has sought to restrain, or at least to regulate, the actual conduct of hostilities. The basic imperative of this body of law has been to restrict warfare in order to account for humanitarian principles by prohibiting certain types of weapons, or protecting certain categories of persons, such as wounded combatants, prisoners of war, or the civilian population.