31 October 2019
Beyond the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), international humanitarian law (IHL) currently lacks mechanisms to ensure effectively its own compliance.
Such structural flaw has left victims of violations ‘in search of a forum’ and thus prompted a frequent recourse to the more-developed human rights machinery, even if the opportuneness of this tendency has long been – and remains – debated in both intergovernmental and scholarly forums.
‘Issues at stake include the fact that debates on IHL within human rights mechanisms have been criticized for being politicized and applying double standards; for misapplying and/or weakening IHL because of unrealistic requirements; for being unable to address non-State armed groups, which are bound by IHL; for antagonizing important stakeholders such as armed forces; or for weakening the human rights standards whose threshold is higher than that of IHL’ explains Professor Marco Sassòli, Director of the Geneva Academy.
Our new working paper Implementing International Humanitarian Law through Human Rights Mechanisms: Opportunity or Utopia? provides an overview of this trend, derives provisional lessons-learned on the opportuneness of human rights bodies dealing with IHL and examines issues that would deserve further academic and/or practical examination.
‘This paper does not pass any judgement on this trend – a trend so entrenched that would, in any case, prove hard to pause – but aims at contributing to its dispassionate assessment’ explains Emilie Max, Researcher at the Geneva Academy and author of the paper.
After a reminder on mechanisms established by the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their additional Protocols of 1977, the paper summarily frames the relationship between IHL and international human rights law and assess the competence and practice of political mechanisms emanating from the Charter of the United Nations, as well as of universal and regional treaty-based mechanisms.
Bringing academics and practitioners, the colloquium will notably discuss whether and how human rights mechanisms can contribute to the implementation of IHL without lowering the protection afforded by international human rights law or weakening the credibility of IHL. These are particularly relevant questions this year, the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the training course took place both in Geneva and online – with four participants in Geneva and nine online.
Sandra Pointet/Geneva Academy
The 78 students of our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and MAS in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law are starting their classes this week, both in Geneva and online.
UN Photo/Mark Garten
In this opening lecture of the academic year, Catherine Marchi-Uhel, Head of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism on international crimes committed in Syria, will share her experience on a career in international law.
This panel will discuss the legal and policy challenges of the Swiss bills in light of international law.
This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, focuses on the specific issues that arise in times of armed conflict regarding the respect, protection and fulfilment of human rights. It addresses key issues like the applicability of human rights in times of armed conflict; the possibilities of restricting human rights under systems of limitations and derogations; and the extraterritorial application of human rights law.
From its adoption to its content and implementation, this training course provides a comprehensive overview of the United Nations Declaration on the rights of peasants, as well as tools to protect and promote the rights of peasants, rural women, fisher, pastoralist and nomadic communities, as well as agricultural workers.
Olivier Chamard/Geneva Academy
The Geneva Human Rights Platform collaborates with a series of actors to reflect on the implementation of international human rights norms at the local level and propose solutions to improve uptake of recommendations and decisions taken by Geneva-based human rights bodies at the local level.