Reflections on the Law of War

Collected Essays


The papers collected in this volume span a 35-year period of active involvement in the ‘reaffirmation and development of international humanitarian law’. A process under that name started in 1971 and ended in 1977 with the adoption of two Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, one for international and one for internal armed conflicts. Subsequent developments brought a narrowing of this gap between international and internal armed conflicts, as well as growing recognition of the interplay between the law of armed conflict and human rights, the rediscovery of individual criminal liability for violations of international humanitarian law, the introduction of further prohibitions or restrictions on the use of specified weapons, and so on.
In contrast with these positive developments, the period was negatively characterised by increasing disrespect, not only for some or other minor rule (such as what to do with cash taken from a prisoner of war at the time of his capture) but for the very principles underlying the entire body of the law of armed conflict: respect for the other as a human being and, hence, humane treatment of prisoners of war and other detainees, protection of civilians…
Throughout the period, the author’s activities ranged from participation in lawmaking and law interpreting exercises, through attempts at explaining the law of armed conflict in its historical context and making propaganda for its faithful implementation, to critical or even bewildered observance of actual events. The papers brought together here reflect these diverse angles.

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Frits Kalshoven was Professor of IHL at Leiden University (1967-1989) and Groningen University (1999-2002). He began his career as an officer in the Royal Dutch Navy (1945-1967). He has been Advisor to the Board of the Netherlands Red Cross Society (1971-1993). He has also served as Chairman of the UN Commission of Experts to investigate serious violations of IHL in the Former Yugoslavia (1992-1993) and as member of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (1991-2001), the last five years of which as its President. He has authored and edited numerous publications on the laws of war. In 2003 the Standing Commission of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement awarded him the Henry Dunant Medal.
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