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.
In the new podcast series ‘Lethal Autonomous Weapons: 10 Things We Want to Know’ launched in July, Professor Paola Gaeta and her research team discuss with other experts the challenges and problems raised by lethal autonomous weapons (‘LAWS‘).
NASA on Unsplash
In her winning essay Digital Safe Havens: Sheltering Civilians From Military Cyber Operations, Isabelle Peart brings forward novel suggestions on how to reduce the risk of harm to civilians posed by military cyber operations.
This event – co-organized with the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) – will discuss the new Principles on Effective Interviewing for Investigations and Information Gathering – also known as the Méndez Principles.
This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, discusses the protection offered by international humanitarian law (IHL) in non-international armed conflicts (NIACs) and addresses some problems and controversies specific to IHL of NIACs, including the difficulty to ensure the respect of IHL by armed non-state actors.
Francisco Proner / Farpa/ CIDH
This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, aims at presenting the institutions and procedures in charge of the implementation of international human rights law.
Dave Klassen/The EITI
This project aims to further identify and clarify policies and practices for States and business, including public and private investors, across the full ‘conflict cycle’ and the ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ pillars of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
This research aims at building a common understanding and vision as to how states and the relevant parts of the UN system can provide a concrete and practical framework to address human rights responsibilities of armed non-state actors.