Implementing International Humanitarian Law Through Human Rights Mechanisms

Started in April 2019

Beyond the International Committee of the Red Cross, international humanitarian law (IHL) lacks mechanisms to effectively ensure its own compliance. Such structural flaw of its system prompted a general recourse to the better-equipped human rights machinery, even if the opportuneness of this tendency has long been – and remains – debated in both intergovernmental and scholarly forums.

If some human rights mechanisms provide unique opportunities for victims affected by armed conflict (such as individual complaints before universal and regional treaty bodies), others remain criticized for being inherently political, too slow to deal with violations, or disconnected from the realities of conflict, thus antagonizing important military stakeholders.

Objectives

The purpose of this research project is not to pass judgment on the above-mentioned trend but to contribute to its objective and contemporary assessment. It, therefore, aims at examining how – if at all possible – IHL could be more systematically, appropriately, and correctly dealt with by the human rights mechanisms emanating from the Charter of the United Nations, as well from universal and regional treaties.

Activities

This project currently examines the feasibility and adequate ways of establishing an experts’ pool on IHL, to be at the service of (universal and/or regional) treaty-body mechanisms.

NEWS AND UPCOMING EVENTS

Emilie Max at her desk at the Geneva Academy News

Meet our Researchers: Émilie Max

20 January 2020

Émilie Max is one of our researchers. She tells us about her background, the research projects she works on and why she decided to work in this field.

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A session of the UN Human Rights Committtee at Palais Wilson News

New Paper Discusses IHL Implementation through Human Rights Mechanisms

31 October 2019

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.

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OUTPUT

Framing the Issue, Identifying Lessons Learned, and Supporting States and UN Human Rights Mechanisms

While the research did not aim at providing a detailed comparative assessment of how all existing (international, regional, or domestic) mechanisms have dealt with IHL, examined or made pronouncements on IHL, it allowed framing the issue. The working paper Implementing International Humanitarian Law through Human Rights Mechanisms: Opportunity or Utopia?:

  • Provided a useful background for discussion at the scientific colloquium of the 2019 Geneva Human Rights Week (14–15 November 2019)
  • Identified lessons learned from the practice of human rights mechanisms in order to assist stakeholders – especially States – in potentially adopting a coherent and systematized positioning vis-à-vis the implementation of IHL by such mechanisms
  • Resulted in the organization of a (closed and virtual) workshop series on IHL for members of United Nations’ universal treaty body mechanisms and their secretariat in November 2020.

Publications

Cover of the publication

Implementing International Humanitarian Law Through Human Rights Mechanisms: Opportunity Or Utopia?

October 2019

Émilie Max

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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Past Events

The role of human rights mechanisms in implementing international humanitarian law

13-14 November 2019

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Dr Annyssa Bellal Will Discuss IHL Monitoring and Compliance at the UNGA Ministerial Week

20 September 2021

Our Senior Research Fellow and Strategic Adviser on International Humanitarian Law Dr Annyssa Bellal will discuss IHL monitoring and compliance at a High-Level Side Event during the UN General Assembly Ministerial Week.

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Portrait of Fionnuala Ní Aoláin News

Our New Visiting Fellow: Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin

11 January 2022

Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin just started as Visiting Fellow at the Geneva Academy and will stay with us until June 2022. She will complete a monograph on the law of occupation focused on the gender dimensions of occupation.

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7 February 2022, 12:30-14:00

In this online event co-organized with the ATLAS Network, prominent women in international law will share their experience and advice through an interactive discussion.

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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.

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This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, analyses the main international and regional norms governing the international protection of refugees. It notably examines the sources of international refugee law, including the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and their interaction with human rights law and international humanitarian law.

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Towards Global Transitional Justice?

published on January 2022

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Regulatory Approaches to Online Harms and Human Rights: Three Case Studies

published on January 2022

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