Practical Guide to Humanitarian Law - now available online

The essential handbook on international humanitarian law, Practical Guide to Humanitarian Law is now available in a comprehensively updated online edition at the following addresses:



Written and regularly updated by Françoise Bouchet-Saulnier, Director of MSF’s International Legal Department, from the perspective of victims and those who provide assistance to them, the Guide analyses how international humanitarian law has evolved in the face of immense new challenges to international peace and human security.

The precise meanings and content for over 200 terms such as terrorism, refugee, genocide, armed conflict, protection, peacekeeping, torture, and private military companies— words that the media has introduced into everyday conversation, yet whose legal and political meanings are often obscure.

The Guide definitively explains the terms, concepts, and rules of humanitarian law in accessible and reader-friendly alphabetical entries, while outlining the dangers and responses to violations of the law.  Entries are complemented by analysis  of  relevant  court decisions; detailed bibliographic references; addresses,   phone   numbers,  and  Internet  links  to  the  organizations presented;  a  thematic  index;  and an up-to-date list of the ratification status   of  the  more  than  20  international  conventions  and  treaties concerning  humanitarian  law, human rights, refugee law, and international criminal law.

The Practical Guide to Humanitarian Law has become an indispensable legal tool for both MSF headquarters and for MSF in the field, as well as for other humanitarian organisations.

 We hope it inspires and informs you, the media in your general understanding of the topic.

At a time when hospital, patients and medical personnel are being targeted in many places and many ways, it is worth knowing the strength and weakness of the protected status of "medical mission", "medical personnel" and the "wounded and sick".


Contact us
Kate Ribet Media Liaison Officer, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Southern Africa
Kate Ribet Media Liaison Officer, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Southern Africa
About Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Southern Africa

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