Customary International Humanitarian Law Project
Joint Project of the British Red Cross (BRCS) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to update the ICRC Study on Customary International Humanitarian Law
Customary international humanitarian law (IHL) is important in today’s armed conflicts because it fills gaps left by treaty law in both international and non-international conflicts and so strengthens the protection offered to victims. Mandated by the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1995, the ICRC conducted a study on customary IHL which was published by Cambridge University Press in 2005. This study identified 161 rules of customary IHL and compiled relevant national and international practice. In 2007, the ICRC teamed up with the British Red Cross to update the practice section of the customary IHL study.
The aim of the Customary IHL Project is to provide a view into current national and international practice on matters of IHL. The original ICRC study on customary IHL is now available free of charge at the customary IHL database. This database provides rapid access to the rules of customary IHL and enables users to examine practice from around the world. It is updated regularly with new national and international practice.
Since its inception in 2010, the number of users of the customary IHL database has grown markedly. The collection of practice on the database is an invaluable resource to academics, military advisors and other specialists involved in the practical application of IHL and for any further review of state practice to assess developments in customary IHL.
A team of British Red Cross researchers consisting of Vanessa Holzer (team leader), Claire Constant, Natália Ferreira de Castro and Jolien Quispel is based at the Lauterpacht Centre. They analyse national and international practice pertaining to IHL and assist the ICRC in updating the customary IHL database.