The Practical Guide to Humanitarian Law

« Calling things by the wrong name adds to the affliction of the world. » Albert Camus.

Force Majeure

Whether proclaimed by a State or an individual, a force majeure describes unexpected and unavoidable circumstances that prevent that government or person from keeping or implementing a written commitment (e.g., a treaty, a contract, etc.). Sometimes referred to as an “act of God,” a force majeure is an outside event that is unpredictable and beyond the control of those invoking it. This notion may be applied to commitments undertaken by individuals.

War is often pronounced as a force majeure with regard to numerous obligations relating to contracts or conventions. It results in the limitation or suspension of many individual rights and state duties.

States may not invoke war as a force majeur e to dodge obligations that result from international conventions relating to the laws of war (humanitarian law). These are established specifically to apply in such extreme circumstances.

Fundamental guaranteesHuman rightsInternational humanitarian law

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