ICRC Customary Study Online
Just a reminder to readers: the ICRC’s phenomenal database of customary international humanitarian law is available for free online — and includes a great deal of information that is not available in the two printed volumes. Here is the ICRC’s description:
Today, the ICRC has made available on its online, free of charge Customary IHL database an update of State practice of 7 countries and 3 tribunals relating to armed conflicts and humanitarian issues such as the distinction between combatants and civilians, the use of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, the protection of internally displaced persons, the protection of children and in particular child soldiers, the prohibition of sexual violence and slavery, the integration of international humanitarian law (IHL) into the training and operations of armed forces, and the prosecution of war crimes.
Practice up till the end of 2010 of the following countries has been included for this most recent update of the Database: Armenia, Brazil, Cuba, El Salvador, Georgia, Nepal and New Zealand. Case-law of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice dealing with questions of IHL has also been updated. New practice is marked in green throughout the Database.
The purpose of the Customary IHL database is to make not only the rules of customary IHL but also the underlying State and international practice easily accessible by everyone interested in the interpretation and application of IHL. The information in the database is easily accessible by means of three search parameters: subject matter, type of practice and country, which can be used separately or can be combined in a powerful search engine.
The formation of customary law is an on-going process, as practice keeps evolving. That practice therefore has to be updated regularly to identify the rules of customary law, monitor their potential evolution and assess the extent to which they enhance protection for victims of armed conflict by confirming or filling in gaps in treaty-based law. We will continue to update the database with practice from about 100 countries and a number of relevant international bodies. The next updates of both national and international practice are scheduled for June and July 2014.
The database is updated through a partnership between the ICRC and the British Red Cross. A wide network of ICRC delegations and a number of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies gather source material for the Database, which is processed under the supervision of the ICRC by a joint ICRC-BRCS research team based in the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law.
The database is an invaluable resource, one I use often. If you’re not using it, you should!