1977 protocol II additional to the 1949 Geneva Conventions and customary international law

Kawai, Toshinobu

May 2001

Thesis or dissertation

© 2001 Toshinobu Kawai. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Traditionally the laws of war, or widely known as international humanitarian law today, in principle did not cover civil wars but only wars between States. The Geneva Conventions were adopted in 1949 to increase the protection of victims in armed conflicts, but the protection of the victims in internal conflict by the Conventions was limited. Thus, Protocol II additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 was introduced in 1977 to be specifically applicable to non-international armed conflicts in order to ameliorate the conditions of those who suffer in such conflict.

A State confronting a conflict in its own territory is almost always unwilling to apply an international treaty to the situation, and therefore the pace of the ratification of Protocol II has been slow. The State is not bound by the treaty unless she ratifies it, and an internal war tends to become severe and cruel with few regulations. Despite such inadequate protection, however, customary international law based on State practice and opinio furls applies to such circumstances. The purpose of this thesis is therefore to ascertain the customary status of Protocol II.

This thesis first examines whether customary rules had existed before the introduction of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, and proceeds to study what is customary international law applicable to non-international armed conflict. Then this author determines whether each article of Protocol II has become customary by investigating into State practice and opinio juris, and he finds through the investigation that only a little part of the Protocol has become customary. Notwithstanding such insufficient protection for the victims in civil conflict, however, the general principles of the laws of war are always applicable to internal conflict. In addition this writer emphasises the importance of the domestic "implementation" of the humanitarian rules and recommends the introduction of a unified and simplified treaty in the future revision of the Geneva Conventions and their Protocols.

Law School, The University of Hull
Ethos identifier
PID : 396058
Qualification level
Qualification name
Filesize: 15 MB
QR Code