Although this contribution deals with contemporary challenges to IHL, the authors nevertheless first summarise some impressive successes achieved over the last 150 years, to avoid painting too bleak a picture of this branch of law which aims at ensuring a minimum of humanity in such fundamentally inhumane situations as armed conflicts. They then discuss contemporary challenges to IHL, some of which result from the very nature of the situations to which it applies, while others may arguably be ascribed to certain problematic characteristics of modern warfare. Challenges concerning the substance of the law are treated first, followed by what, in the authors' opinion, is the main challenge, namely the insufficiency of mechanisms to ensure respect for already existing and largely adequate rules. To a large extent, these failings can be ascribed to a lack of political will on the part of States (and other factors) to follow through with effective implementation mechanisms. This article, written by lawyers and not political scientists, focuses on the legal challenges and attempts to offer suggestions that may help to effect change on, at least, the legal plane. As such, the final section explores potential avenues for, and obstacles to, addressing the substantive and procedural challenges highlighted.
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