The history of human kind right from antiquity testified that, conflict or rather armed conflict between individuals, families, tribes and nations has been part of the nature of human persons.
Policy of force was encouraged by disinclination of state of Europe during the dark ages through the Middle Ages, to consider any community other than one which was loosely related to them as Barbarian who did not deserve to be treated on equal footing. An example is the case of Romans who treated none but their Latin cousins as equals, while they treated the rest of the world as Barbarians who deserved to live only under Roman Dominance.1
During the period referred to above, the rights of combatants as well as non-combatants, e.g. civilians, women, children, aged persons, religious persons and injured combatants were not properly and adequately respected and protected during armed conflict situations. However, even at that period, certain individuals as well as some religious leaders tried with some greater or lesser success to limit the suffering of war among combatants and non-combatants.2
- George, Schwarzanberger and Brown, A Manual of International Law, Professional Book Limited, U.K., 6th Edition, 1976, page 5.
- Ladan, M.T., Introduction to International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Ahmadu ello University Press, Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria, Page 108.
For instance, two thousand years before Christ, King Hammurabi of Babylonia (now in Iraq) codified rules of conduct in war.3
In India, the text of Maharabati and Manu Codes provided that, mercy be shown to the disarmed and wounded enemy. 4
Over fourteen hundred years ago (7th Century, A. D.), the religion of Islam laid down comprehensive rules of war, in order to alleviate the suffering of war to both combatants and non-
In the 17th Century, the Dutch legal scholar and diplomat, Grotius, wrote his book entitled De juri Belli – Acpacis, which was considered to be the first attempt to draw up rules of international law, protecting the victim of armed conflict.6
However, the first modern attempt to draw up a binding code for the conduct of armed forces in the field was that prepared by Professor Francis Libber of the United States of America, promulgated as law, by President Lincon in 1868, during American Civil War. This code though only binding upon United States of American forces was based on what Libber regarded as the generally accepted law of his day.7
Beside the above mentioned attempts by various scholars and statesmen, there had been so many other attempts by the states in more recent times through legally binding treaties aimed at restraining the undesirable effect of armed conflict and protection of non-combatants.
Significant among them are the Hague conventions and the four Geneva conventions of 1949 with their additional protocols of 1977, aimed at protecting non-combatants.8
All the four Geneva conventions of 1949 are to apply to any international armed conflicts, while common Article 3, common to all Geneva conventions to apply to non-international armed conflict.9
Before and after the birth of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), the Arabian peninsular was in Jahiliyya (Dark Age or period of ignorance). Barbarism, individualism, communal clashes and wars were the order of the day.10
The Qur’anic verses allude to the full scale invasion of Hijaz (presently Saudi Arabia) by the Babylonian army prior to the birth of the prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), in 57 C.E.11
PROTECTION OF THE RIGHTS OF INDIVIDUALS IN ARMED CONFLICT SITUATION