Since the first Geneva Convention of 1864, nations have attempted to codify a system of international law, concerning acceptable limits on the conduct of war. These laws address a range of considerations including declarations of war, acceptance of surrender and proper treatment of prisoners.
Such discussions are nothing new, the earliest examples dating to the ancient Sanskrit epic Mahābhārata, and to the old testament (Torah) Book of Deuteronomy. The first Caliph, Abu Bakr, laid down ten rules of warfare for his Muslim army, in the 7th century.
In the New World British colony in North America, one of twenty-seven grievances enumerated in the Declaration of Independence was that King George III “has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions“.
The American Revolution was on its last…
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