The article identifies five principal reasons for international nongovernmental organizations to use humanitarian law in seeking to protect human rights during periods of armed conflict and also notes three difficulties in using humanitarian law. International nongovernmental organizations, aside from the International Committee of the Red Cross, possess an important role in assessing whether govern ments and armed opposition groups are respecting their human rights and humanitarian law obligations Americas Watch, Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, and other organ izations have for some time been using humanitarian law and human rights law in armed conflict situations. They need to become more consistent and careful in using humanitarian law; they can also learn from the experience of the Red Cross in how to be more effective in safeguarding human rights during periods of armed conflict. © 1987, Sage Publications. All rights reserved.