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Back in 1949, and thus only one year after the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the four Geneva Conventions were adopted, providing a strong signal for the New World Order created after 1945 with the United Nations. The UN not only combined as its goals the maintenance of peace and security and the protection of human rights, but also realistically recognized that succeeding generations had not yet been saved from the scourge of war.

It is against this background that the international humanitarian law („IHL“) and international human rights law („IHRL“) have continued to coexist as two distinct, but interrelated fields of international law ever since. Yet, both of these closely interrelated areas face new and indeed interwoven challenges, unforeseeable at the time of their adoption, and they accordingly need continuous adjustment to these challenges. The fundamentally changed character of armed conflicts since the adoption of the Geneva Convention and their Additional Protocols implies and requires an ongoing review of the interpretation and implementation of IHL. What is more, however, is that the relevance of IHRL has been continuously growing over the last 70 years, in particular as far as its impact on the interpretation and application of IHL, and vice versa, is concerned. Hence, the time has come for stocktaking.

The 2019 Potsdam AHRI Conference will therefore provide AHRI members with an ample opportunity to discuss the relevance of IHRL in times of armed conflict no longer discernible at first sight. For instance, unmanned weapons and cyber warfare are raising fundamental issues of both IHL and IHRL, especially given that the axiomatic distinction between combatants and fighters on the one hand and civilians on the other might be further blurred. It is these manifold other developments that are raising fundamental ethic, legal, and political issues at the borderline between IHL and IHRL, and that require answers apt for the needs of the 21st century.