The fields of international human rights law and international humanitarian law have exploded over the past fifty years. The first few decades after World War II were devoted primarily to the recognition of human rights norms; recent years have witnessed a steady growth in the recognition of humanitarian norms and the creation of mechanisms for enforcing and implementing both human rights and humanitarian norms. Thus, victims of human rights and humanitarian law violations around the world increasingly can find legal protection and redress for their grievances.
This book seeks to integrate the fields of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. Historically, these fields of law have developed in a somewhat disjointed fashion, leading its expositors to view the fields as wholly distinct. However, as we hope will become apparent to the reader, these fields increasingly have become integrated, relying on each other for their own respective coherence. Indeed, a fundamental general principle of international law interpretation demands that states interpret their international legal obligations consistently with their other international legal obligations. Hence, a state's international human rights legal obligations must be construed in conformity with its international humanitarian legal obligations and vice versa.
This integrationist approach is also supported by the texts of international human rights and international humanitarian treaties. For example, human rights treaties explicitly address rights protections during armed conflicts – the customary subject that international humanitarian law governs. And, humanitarian treaties often explicitly prohibit acts (e.g., genocide, crimes against humanity) that occur outside of armed conflicts – the customary period of international human rights law application.