The development of international humanitarian law since the 19th century
Universality and continuity in international law
The Hague : Eleven International, 2011
There are diverse reasons for the fact that, in spite of the awful experiences humanity had made in the course of its history, the codifications of international humanitarian law were developed relatively late. Firstly, and for a long time, there was no system of sovereign Statehood that might have created such a universally effective legal system. Secondly, it was only towards the end of the 19th century that international law began to distance itself from the principle of bellum iustum and to give equal status to war and peace. It was this change of paradigm in favor of a neutral self-conception of international law that enabled the emergence of the laws of war for the mitigation of human suffering in war. Finally and this is probably the decisive factor, it was only at this moment that the individual human being was no longer viewed merely as an object of international law, but as a beneficiary itself worthy of protection.