Apartfrom the two epics, the law pertaining to warfare was also found to exist inthe Code of Manu i.e.
Manusmriti which was developed on the basis of customs,rules and laws in force in India between B.C. 200 and 200 A.D.
. The manusmritireferred to the protection of war victims which in today’s world in a veryimportant aspect of the IHL.InChina, the law of warfare was seen to be prescribed in “The Art of War” whichwas a foremost classic of Chinese literature on military strategy. It includedaspects like respect for prisoners of war, avoiding needless violence to enemymilitary and civilian personnel. Infact, in this “The Art of War” Sun Tzuadvocated the idea of defeating the enemy with morality and emphasized ondevising skilful strategies to subdue enemy army without engaging it.Succinctly, it focuses on avoiding unnecessary suffering.Furthermore,in ancient India there was a practice among the Greeks and Romans pertaining toannouncing of commencement of the hostilities by a formal declaration of war.
This custom prevalent in those times is found to be present in today’s ‘TheHague Convention (III) Relative to the Opening of Hostilities, 1907 in Article1. The Article 1 provides that the hostilities between the contracting powers’must not commence without previous and explicit warning, in the form either ofa party’s reasoned declaration of war or of an ultimatum with conditionaldeclaration of war’.Thefirst “modern” developments of IHL arose from the expansion of maritimeinternational trade and the corresponding need for an enhanced protection forcommercial vessels. This led to the adoption of a treaty called the 1856Declaration of Paris, signed at the end of the Crimean War (1853-1856). TheDeclaration has been argued to be the first time states used a treaty to createnew rules on the laws of war. Before then treaties had been used to cementalliances or bring wars to an end, but such agreements were concluded withoutpurporting to change the law itself. Certainly the Declaration of Paris was thefirst general IHL treaty and was centered on the maritime law of neutrality. ThisDeclaration of Paris primarily had threefocal points; the first one being abolishing of privateering; privateering wasan act by way of which the belligerent states used to attack the enemy shippingas well as the merchant vessels and this posed a great threat to world maritimetrade and safety; the second being seizure of enemy goods on neutral vessel andneutral goods on enemy vessel, so the merchant goods were afforded protectionagainst the acts of the belligerent states.
However an exception was provided forcontraband goods and goods that would aid in prosecution of war meaningthereby, that these kinds of goods could be seized; the third issue centeredaround maritime blockade; since the entire Declaration of Paris revolved aroundthe maritime aspect of warfare therefore the third element was concernregarding maritime blockade, the belligerent states in times of war had thetendency of obstructing the maritime commerce routes which in turn hindered theworld maritime trade and commerce and its security. Thus, at this Declarationit was sought to end this maritime blockade. This however was again seen as protectingtrade without any efforts to mitigate the effects of war on civilians.Oneof the major development in IHL occurred during the American Civil War whereinLieber Code came into being. The code was completed in 1863 and contained 157articles. It was a first ever attempt towards codification of the laws andcustoms of war and it covered many areas thereof.
The Lieber Code had a greatinfluence in the codification of the modern day IHL and finally internationallylegal binding treaties were adopted the first being in the Hague Conference of1899 and then revised in 1907.Thereaftercame the Geneva Convention of 1949 and the Additional protocol I in 1977 whichacts as the binding law even now. Another major component of the corpusof contemporary IHL treaties are the four Geneva Conventions adopted in 1949,just after the Second World War. The “Geneva Conventions” of 1949 wereadopted in order to prevent the abuses seen during that war. The “GenevaConventions” contain hundreds of provisions, all dealing with the protection ofpersons rather than the conduct of hostilities. The two first conventionsconcern the protection of wounded and sick in armed forces in the fieldand at sea, respectively.
They result from the revisions of former conventionson that subject. The third one deals with the protection of capturedcombatants, who are entitled to the status of prisoner of war. This is afundamentally revised version of the 1929 Geneva Convention. Only the fourthGeneva Convention adopted in 1949 introduced a wholly new category of”protected persons;” namely civilians.
The development of new forms ofweaponry and the embrace of a “total war” philosophy meant that the SecondWorld War affected a far higher proportion of ordinary civilians than conflictsin the recent past. The vast majority of the four Geneva Conventions apply onlyto international armed conflicts. Only one provision is applicable tonon-international armed conflicts. This is Article 3 and, as it is written inthe same way in all the four conventions, it is generally called “CommonArticle 3.” Common Article 3 to the four Geneva Conventions is arudimentary provision and grants only the most basic protection.