War or armed conflict is characterized by outbursts of primitive, raw violence. When states cannot or will not settle their disagreements or differences by means of peaceful discussion, weapons are suddenly made to speak. War inevitably results in immeasurable suffering among people and severe damage to objects. War is by definition evil, as the Nuremberg Tribunal set forth in its judgment of the major war criminals of the Second World War. Yet, states continue to wage wars and groups still take up weapons when they have lost hope of just treatment at the hands of the government. And no one could condemn a war waged, for example, by a small state protecting itself against an attack on its independence or by a people rebelling against a tyrannical regime.
Laws and customs regulating warfare may be traced back to ancient times. While such norms have varied between civilizations and centuries, and were often shockingly lax by modern standards, it is significant that diverse cultures around the globe have recorded agreements, religious edicts, and military instructions laying out some rudimentary ground rules for military conflict. Armed conflict often represents the dark side of human nature such as anger, greed, vengeance, false pride, strong sense of ill feeling, intolerance, or hatred. War and armed conflict survive in both international and national societies, despite the fact that most ancient civilizations of the world have clearly laid down humanitarian rules which were required to be observed, by nations who go to war. Indeed, the human society has till this day failed to abolish use of violence in interstate relations and intra community relations.