Thursday, January 24, 2008

Mani: Handbook of International Humanitarian Law in South Asia

V.S. Mani (Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar) has published Handbook of International Humanitarian Law in South Asia (Oxford Univ. Press 2007). Here's the abstract:

To date our society has failed to abolish the use of violence both in inter-community and international relations. Accepting this fact as a given, international humanitarian law (IHL) maintains a focus on the protection of victims of violence, on the basis of the principle of ‘elementary considerations of humanity’. It does not concern itself with questions about the legitimacy, or otherwise, of actions taken by parties to an armed conflict.

In South Asia since the 1940s, there have been numerous occasions of bloodletting demanding humanitarian assistance. In this handbook specialists from around the region present studies on various facets of IHL, both doctrinal and empirical. They explore the evolution of the principles of IHL in South Asia, deeply embedded in the religious and cultural traditions of the region. They go on to analyse contemporary national attitudes of individual South Asian countries to IHL and various relevant events including the Partition and mass migration, ‘police action’ in a princely state, instances of insurgency, emergence of a new country from a bloody war, influx of refugees, internal and international armed conflicts, and the setting up of new National Red Cross Committees boosted by the presence of a Regional Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The handbook has separate sections on the role of humanitarian organizations in the promotion of IHL in the region, the relationship of IHL to states of emergency, to military law, and to UN Peace Operations. In two useful appendices it offers a factsheet on the status of IHL treaties in South Asia and a chart of the status of IHL treaties around the world.