3.6 HUMANS RIGHTS
IN TIMES OF WAR
It is said that everything is fair in love and war. This
is not true. There are rules intended to protect human rights
in times of war and armed conflicts. These are called International
Humanitarian Law. For example, soldiers are not allowed to
kidnap, rape or kill civilians, i.e. people who do not belong
to the military forces. Soldiers who are captured by the enemy
also have rights. They must not be tortured or killed, and
the wounded must be cared for and nursed. It is also illegal
to steal, even if one comes across an abandoned house.
The basis for international humanitarian law was laid long
before World War II. As early as 1864, representatives from
many states participated in a conference in Geneva where they
agreed on rules regarding how wounded soldiers should be treated.
Since then several conventions have been produced that contain
rules of war that endow civilians, prisoners of war, journalists,
medical personnel and other groups with rights during armed
Serious crimes during wars and armed conflicts:
War crimes are serious violations of the rules of war.
Crimes against humanity are systematic and extensive inhuman
actions against a civilian population such as torture, rape,
kidnapping and murder.
Genocide is an attempt to wholly or partly exterminate a
group of people because of their race, nationality or religion.
If individuals violate International Humanitarian Law and
are guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide,
they can be brought before a court. National courts are primarily
responsible for conducting such legal proceedings. However,
if this is not done, war criminals can be brought before the
International Court of Justice in The Hague in the Netherlands.