San Diego International Law Journal

Library of Congress Authority File


Document Type



Many enduring armed conflicts of the last couple of decades have displaced millions of civilians, giving rise to refugee predicaments around the globe. These wars caused many civilian casualties and the destruction of civilian objects, utterly disregarding the protection offered under the Geneva Conventions. Between the rise in violence and the underlying violations of humanitarian law, the Geneva Conventions have lost their significance. Thus, it must be considered whether the Geneva Conventions matter anymore with regard to their effectiveness and efficiency. If the Geneva Conventions are still relevant, then who is responsible for violations of humanitarian law? Further, when states fight, how can they avoid violations of humanitarian law? This Article scrutinizes the efficiency and effectiveness of the Geneva Conventions in protecting civilian lives and civilian objects from the devastation of warfare. This Article intends to list the major violations of the Geneva Conventions in modern times and investigate the shortcomings of the legal framework to explain the lacunae that are exploited by warring states and nonstate actors. Although this Article discusses the major challenges faced by the Geneva Conventions to protect civilians, it also provides a critical assessment of the crucial role of nonstate actors in hybrid and asymmetrical warfare in the context of its ramifications for the Geneva Conventions. Accordingly, this Article recommends ways to induce compliance among states and nonstate actors to better enforce humanitarian law and restore the efficacy of the Geneva Conventions in order to reduce human suffering and restore human dignity.