The Changing Face of Warfare in the 21st Century

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International Humanitarian Law Magazine (2012)

When Henry Dunant, the founder of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, witnessed the enormous human suffering on the battlefi eld in Solferino in 1859, he could not possibly have imagined how different battlefi elds around the world would look in 2012. Cavalry has been replaced by high-tech transportation on land, sea and air; rifl es have been replaced by drones and other automated weaponry, and to a large extent, battlefi elds are no longer fi elds at all – more and more confl icts are taking place in urban areas and cities with civilians feeling the brunt of conflicts. However as we examine how warfare has, and continues to change, the basic laws of war as set out in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 remain. It is quite remarkable to refl ect on the one hand on the extraordinary changes to modern warfare that have taken place in just the last two decades, and at the same time marvel at how the laws regulating warfare have continued to reduce human suffering in some of the most appalling situations on the planet for the last two centuries.