The Practical Guide to Humanitarian Law

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


There is no legal definition of well-being. Nevertheless, the well-being of individuals is protected by law through:

  • the prohibition against ill treatment and torture or any other form of cruel or degrading treatment or punishment;
  • the provisions of humanitarian law for the protection of objects that are indispensable to the survival of the civilian population;
  • the prohibition of any form of violence to the physical or mental well-being of civilians, wounded or sick, prisoners of war, or persons under the responsibility of a party to an armed conflict (as defined in GCI Art. 13, GCII Art. 13, GCIII Art. 4, and API Art. 75);
  • the provisions for the relief and protection foreseen for civilian and protected persons in situations of conflict.

Outside periods of conflict, the main international human rights conventions confirm the responsibility of States to ensure and protect the well-being of their citizens. This is the very foundation of the social contract that ties individuals to society, and any action that violates this norm may be subject to a complaint. These conventions also establish the fundamental right of all persons to have a standard of living adequate for their health and well-being and that of their family (Arts. 25 and 29.2 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Art. 4 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights).

Human RightsIll treatmentPersecutionProtected propertyProtectionRelief

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