War crimes are serious violations of international humanitarian law during an armed conflict. Armed conflicts may be either international or internal (noninternational). International armed conflicts are between two or more states; internal armed conflicts (such as a civil war) occur within one state.

International humanitarian law, which is also referred to as the law of war, developed over many centuries through customary international law, which is law established from customs, rather than conventional international law, which is law established by international treaties ratified by states. Two forms of law govern international humanitarian law. The first is jus ad bellum, which is the law that governs the legality of initiating an armed conflict. The second is jus in bello, which governs the legality of acts during an ...

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