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The Role of Nonstate Entities in Developing and Promoting International Humanitarian Law

Updated: May 12, 2020

Author: Dr. Knut Dormann


In recent years, both states and nonstate entities, the number of which has increased, have found ways to stimulate debate about how to interpret, apply, and clarify international humanitarian law (IHL). The development, interpretation, and clarification of IHL have largely occurred not so much through treaty making, but through other, non-legally binding avenues. There is a spectrum of such activity, ranging from state-driven processes aimed at producing non-legally binding outcomes, to hybrid processes involving states, independent experts, and various bodies. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) serves as a prominent actor in this regard, initiating ICRC-specific initiatives, expert processes, and academic writing.


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