war, laws of, in international law, rules and principles regulating an armed conflict between nations. These laws are designed to minimize the destruction of life and property, to proscribe cruel treatment of noncombatants and prisoners of war, and to establish conditions under which the belligerents may consult with one another. To mitigate the effects of insurrections and civil wars, established governments often recognize the belligerency of domestic opponents and conduct conflicts with them according to the laws of war.
See also neutrality; seas, freedom of the.
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