International humanitarian law and the protection of civilians: An easy targets in the armed conflicts
War is a contention between states that is fought out by their armed forces. The civilian population taking no part in hostilities must be spared and protected. This fundamental principle underlies the whole of the law of war, and is the basis of the Geneva and Hague Conventions. It has taken centuries for this principle to be accepted. Always and in all civilizations there has been a chivalorous feeling that man should fight man, and that to attack women, Children and the elderly is an act of abject cowardice. But this feeling no longer applied once the fighting was over. Defeat placed the civilian population at the victor’s mercy. He could do what he liked with them, and all too often they were enslaved, deported or put to death. History is unfortunately, an endless recital of towns overrun by rampaging soldiers, of rape, pillage, murder, fields laid waste, cities burned to the ground and their inhabitants slaughtered. This paper concerns with protection of civilian protection in the armed conflicts.