WAR, INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW & THE UNITED NATIONS




WAR


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War can be defined as:

  1. A violent conflict between organized groups.
  2. The conditions which permit two or more hostile groups to carry on a conflict by armed force.
  3. A struggle for control of government within a governed society.
  4. A clash between major interests that is resolved by bloodshed.
  5. The continuation of politics by other means.
  6. Embracing more than politics: it is the expression of culture, in some societies the culture itself.


Why do people fight Wars?


History is full of wars, of people fighting against one another for all kinds of reasons. Why then do people go to war?
We can narrow it down to two basic reasons:
  1. To better their way of life.
  2. To protect their way of life.

That's it. Just two BASIC reasons. Here are some examples:
  • People in the ancient Middle East went to war to get more land or better farmland or more water or more resources like iron. The ones who attacked wanted more of something. They were trying to better their way of life. The people who were attacked fought back because they were trying to protect their way of life.
  • During the Persian Wars, the Persian Empire attacked Greece because the Persian government and its people wanted more territory and more food and resources. The Persians also felt that Greek shipping in the Mediterranean Sea and the Aegean Sea was interfering with Persian shipping. In this case, the Persians went to war for both reasons. The Greeks, on the other hand, defended their homeland with incredible courage. They knew that if they were conquered, they would have to give up their elected government, their free thinking, and parts of their way of life.

Genocide in Africa





What are some types of War?


  • "Low-intensity conflicts" (insurgencies, organized terrorism, paramilitary crime, sabotage, and other forms of violence in a shadow area between peace and war).
  • Limited wars (wars involving one of the superpowers and a third party that is contained within a well-defined area (wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Korea).
  • Regional wars (fought within or along the boundaries of contending states).
  • Civil wars (struggle for power within a state).
  • Wars of self-determination or national independence movements.
  • Total wars (full mobilization of troops and use of all available weapons and technology to defeat the enemy).


How do people engage in War?


  1. Invasion or attack by armed forces. (eg. guns, tanks, jets, warships, etc.)
  2. Or use of any other weapons. (eg. chemical weapons, nuclear weapons, etc.)
  3. Blockade of ports or coasts.
  4. Attack on air forces or naval fleets.



International Humanitarian Law (IHL)



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International Humanitarian Law can best be explained as the law of armed conflict, or law of war and their effects. The goal of international humanitarian law is to limit the effects of war on people and property, and to protect very vulnerable people. It also aims to limit the suffering caused by war by regulating the way in which military operations are conducted.



Principles of IHL


The aim is to limit the suffering caused by war by forcing parties engaged in a conflict to:
  1. Engage in limited methods and means of warfare.
  2. Distinguish between civilian population and combatants, and work to spare civilian population and property.
  3. Stop harming or killing an enemy who surrenders or who can no longer take part in the fighting.

  4. Stop physically or mentally torturing or performing cruel punishments on enemies.




THE UNITED NATIONS (U.N.)




History of the UN



The United Nations



Peacekeeping and Security



The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945 after the Second World War by 51 countries committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.

Four functions of the United Nations

  1. To keep peace throughout the world.
  2. To develop friendly relations among nations.
  3. To help nations work together to improve the lives of poor people, to conquer hunger, disease and illiteracy, and to encourage respect for each other’s rights and freedoms.
  4. To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations to achieve these goals.


VOCABULARY


War
A state of armed conflict between different nations or states or different groups within a nation or state.
Peace
The freedom from disturbance, quiet and tranquility.
Vulnerable
Being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.
Law
The system of rules that a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members and may enforce by the imposition of penalties.
Civilian
A person not on active duty in the army.
Combatant
A person that is engaged in, or ready to engage in a war.
Non-Combatant
A military and legal term describing civilians not engaged in combat.
Genocide
The deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation.
Treaty
An ending formally signed agreement between countries.
Humanitarian
Concerned with or seeking to promote human welfare.



RESOURCE LINKS


International Committee of the Red Cross

United Nations