5 October 2021
From Mali to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kosovo or Cyprus, the United Nations (UN) is currently leading 12 peacekeeping operations across the globe.
Our new Working Paper The UN Security Council and Common Article 1: Understanding the Role of Peacekeeping Operations in Ensuring Respect for IHL examines the applicability of article 1 common to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 – on the obligation to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law (IHL) – to the UN, with a specific focus on peacekeeping operations.
Written by our former Researcher Emilie Max, it examines how modern peacekeeping operations with multidimensional mandates engage in activities aimed at – or amounting to – promoting compliance with IHL, including in relation to the thematic agenda items of the UN Security Council (UNSC) – namely Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict; Women, Peace and Security; and Children in Armed Conflict.
UN Photo/Manuel Elias
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe>
Although not mentioned in the UN Charter, peacekeeping has become one of the most essential tools at the UN’s disposal for fulfilling its mandate to maintain international peace and security. Such a tool gradually evolved from straightforward military operations to multidimensional mandates with an ever-increasing number of activities aimed at protecting civilians from the violence of armed conflict.
If the contribution of peacekeeping operations to the preservation of human dignity has often been examined through the lens of the protection and promotion of human rights, the same does not necessarily hold true with regard to IHL.
‘This Working Paper precisely aims at filling this gap by assessing whether – and, if so, how –peacekeeping operations contribute to ensuring respect for IHL in the sense of common article 1’ explains Emilie Max.
UK Mission to the UN/Lorey Campese>
The author concludes her paper with a series of recommendations for prospective or current UNSC members that contemplate using peacekeeping for promoting respect for IHL.
‘For instance, if the mandates of peacekeeping operations include the prevention and suppression of IHL violations, states should ensure that peacekeepers can implement these tasks. This implies that the UN Secretariat provides appropriate strategic guidance, that sufficient human and financial resources are allocated to missions, and that there is commensurate political will emanating from the UNSC’ underlines Emilie Max.
‘Similarly, certain activities included in peacekeeping operations’ mandates in order to protect civilians from the violence of armed conflict – like training on IHL – should consistently be implemented in close cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross, other humanitarian organizations and relevant UN agencies’ she adds.
UN Photo/Manuel Elias>
This Working Paper is part of our larger research project led by Emilie Max that aims at critically assessing how the UNSC has recently dealt with IHL.
It follows another publication Room for Manoeuvre? Promoting International Humanitarian Law and Accountability While at the United Nations Security Council: A Reflection on the Role of Elected Members that assessed the UNSC’s recent engagement with IHL and accountability.
Dr Yosuke Nagai is the founder and CEO of Accept International, which works on de-radicalization and reintegration for defectors and prisoners formerly involved with violent extremist groups. He just started as Visiting Fellow at the Geneva Academy and will stay with us until the end of March.
UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré
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At this book launch, one of the book’s editors will discuss cultural heritage and mass atrocities with contributors to the book and specialists.
This IHL Talk will address today's place of nuclear weapons, including their humanitarian impact, the impact of technological advancements, the relevance of the deterrence narrative and implications on the international legal framework.
This online short course discusses the extent to which states may limit and/or derogate from their international human rights obligations in order to prevent and counter-terrorism and thus protect persons under their jurisdiction.
Organized by the Geneva Academy and the ICRC, the Advanced IHL seminar for academics and humanitarian policymakers aims to enhance the capacity of academics to teach and research IHL and contemporary issues arising during armed conflict, while also equipping policymakers with an in-depth understanding of ongoing legal debates and their relevance to decision-making.
UN Photo/Violaine Martin
The IHL-EP works to strengthen the capacity of human rights mechanisms to incorporate IHL into their work in an efficacious and comprehensive manner. By so doing, it aims to address the normative and practical challenges that human rights bodies encounter when dealing with cases in which IHL applies.