Protecting human rights can help prevent armed conflict and mass atrocities. Deterioration in respect for human rights can be a telling sign of impending crisis. Success in promoting and protecting rights and in ensuring accountability for the violation of human rights, can offer effective means to de-escalate conflict and to forestall the human and financial cost of humanitarian crises. Once conflict erupts, the imperative becomes to use all practical means to protect civilians. At these times, respect for international humanitarian law is critical, as is respect for human rights.