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IHL cannot be applied in the situations of internal disturbances, tensions et al. To this end, art. Rules of human rights and other domestic laws apply; they are might be even more restrictive, especially regarding the use of force and detention of enemies, whereas IHL gives states more room to navigate in relation to the use of force and detention. Henry Dunant, following his experiences from the battlefield of Solferino, formulated proposals to improve the situation of the wounded and sick.

One of his proposals foresaw the creation of National Red Cross Societies, with the aim of assigning them the task of caring for the wounded and sick. The ICRC increased its efforts and lobbied state governments to introduce international rules, i. Hague Conventions to governing the way wars were conducted. Discussions and a treaty that followed outlawed the use of chemical weapons. The ICRC continued its efforts, in particular after World War I, to expand the protection of war victims, entering in the new Geneva Convention that covered prisoners of war.

However, the ICRC was unable to persuade state governments to adopt an international agreement to protect civilians before the outbreak of World War II, rendering tens millions of people without specific protection.

32nd International Conference: Resolutions, bulletins and reports

In its legal sense, the ICRC holds a hybrid status. While it is constituted as an association under Swiss private law, it is equipped with international rights and duties under treaty law - making it an international actor and also a subject of public international law. This means the ICRC holds rights and obligations on the international plane as it holds international legal personality.

In art. The International Committee, founded in Geneva in and formally recognized in the Geneva Conventions and by International Conferences of the Red Cross, is an independent humanitarian organization having a status of its own. It co-opts its members from among Swiss citizens. The International Committee may take any humanitarian initiative which comes within its role as a specifically neutral and independent institution and intermediary, and may consider any question requiring examination by such an institution.

In agreement with them, it shall cooperate in matters of common concern, such as their preparation for action in times of armed conflict, respect for and development and ratification of the Geneva Conventions, and the dissemination of the Fundamental Principles and international humanitarian law. The ICRC has, since its inception, followed fundamental principles, which were first formulated in their modern wording at the Vienna Conference of the Red Cross and Crescent Movement in The seven general principles are formulated as follows:.

Reaffirms that, in pursuing its mission, the Movement shall be guided by its Fundamental Principles, which are:. Humanity - The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, born of a desire to bring assistance without discrimination to the wounded on the battlefield, endeavors, in its international and national capacity, to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it may be found. Its purpose is to protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human being. It promotes mutual understanding, friendship, cooperation and lasting peace amongst all peoples.

Impartiality - It makes no discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions. It endeavors to relieve the suffering of individuals, being guided solely by their needs, and to give priority to the most urgent cases of distress. Neutrality - In order to continue to enjoy the confidence of all, the Movement may not take sides in hostilities or engage at any time in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature. Independence - The Movement is independent.

The National Societies, while auxiliaries in the humanitarian services of their governments and subject to the laws of their respective countries, must always maintain their autonomy so that they may be able at all times to act in accordance with the principles of the Movement. Voluntary Service It is a voluntary relief movement not prompted in any manner by desire for gain. It must be open to all. It must carry on its humanitarian work throughout its territory. Universality - The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, in which all Societies have equal status and share equal responsibilities and duties in helping each other, is worldwide.

International Humanitarian Law - GlobaLex

Hence, the main tasks of the ICRC are, first, the protection of persons in an armed conflict, namely wounded and sick soldiers, prisoners of war and civilians; second, in particular the protection of detained protected persons, namely through visit programs; third, restoration of family links; fourth, development, interpretation and dissemination of IHL; and fifth, the exercise of a series of rights and duties as provided for in the Conventions, for example the nomination of physicians in the Mixed Medical Commissions.

The tasks can be either conventional, and, by doing so, the ICRC helps in the implementation of legal texts. Otherwise they are extra-conventional, in cases where the ICRC proposes a change in the law through the adoption of a new convention. Actions can have also a hybrid nature. To the extent that the ICRC remains within the boundaries of humanitarian action, it may propose any practical improvement or solution to a humanitarian problem arising during an armed conflict.

To this end, the ICRC can propose relief action to a besieged place, despite the fact that this action that goes beyond what the Conventions allow; vice versa, any party to a conflict can profit from the expertise and resources material, legal or practical of the ICRC, which can be contacted at any time in to reduce the human suffering in a conflict. A non-exhaustive list of examples may be depicted here: 91 million individual parcels were transmitted to prisoners of war during World War II.

These parcels, which were filled with foodstuffs and other necessities, saved the lives of a great many of their recipients; during World War II, a large part of the Greek civilian population, which was living in conditions of starvation, was only able to survive with the help of assistance delivered through the Swedish Red Cross, in cooperation with the ICRC; during the Israeli-Arab war of , delegates of the ICRC crossed the Jordan River on foot in order to transmit personal messages to the other side of the front.


Implementation and Enforcement of the Law. The implementation and enforcement of international law in general and IHL is a problematic field of discussion. The principle of sovereign equality of states, enshrined in art. Implementation and enforcement of IHL is often voluntary nature, no compulsory means for the settlement of disputes or for ensuring enforcement of IHL exist.

Duties do exist under IHL, but sanctions for the failure to abide by the duties are sparse.

However, the proliferation of international criminal courts and tribunals, such as the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia as well as those of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Court aim to ensure better adherence to the laws of armed conflict.

IHL is no more a field of international law that can afford to be left without any consequences in case of breaches, no means of enforcement or accountability, but rather as a dynamic source of obligations for both States and individuals in their conduct in armed conflicts, both international and non-international. Attempts to implement and enforce IHL must be achieved through measures in wartime and peacetime.

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Australia can be used as an example for the implementation of IHL in peacetime: here the Geneva Conventions Act was implemented, which gives domestic legal effect to the Geneva Conventions. Moreover, in addition to enabling domestic legislation domestically, parties to the Conventions and Protocols are obliged to ensure that IHL is disseminated through the population through the dissemination of military manuals which outline the laws of armed conflict applicable to that State; integration of IHL into the rules of engagement; and the provision of regular training in IHL for the armed forces.

IHL instruction shall also be given to police forces of a State. Also, IHL must be disseminated as widely as possible throughout civil society. This can be fulfilled through the teaching of IHL in universities and schools, as well as through public education programs. In time of war, the need to respect and ensure respect for IHL is of utmost importance.

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This principle is expressed in the Geneva Conventions in Common art. The ICRC, as outlined earlier, plays an important role here. This Commission was created in accordance with art. The Commission is a permanent international body tasked with investigating allegations of grave breaches and other serious violations of IHL. Seventy-two States have accepted the competence of the Commission, which comprises 15 individuals elected by States.

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As of April , the Commission is yet to be called on. Finally, two mechanisms exist to hold states and individuals accountable for IHL violations: on the one hand, the rules on State responsibility for State accountability and international criminal law for individual accountability.

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The rules on State responsibility contain some provisions relevant to IHL, namely that a State is strictly responsible for all acts committed by members of its armed forces. For example, reprisals against protected persons and goods, are prohibited. Under the law of State responsibility, there is a general obligation to pay compensation. International criminal law then again criminalizes categories of acts known as crimes against humanity and genocide.

Crimes against humanity are understood as crimes committed systematically, in accordance with an agreed plan, by either a State or organized group. The idea of crimes against humanity emerged from the Nuremberg and Tokyo Trials convened after the Second World War and have evolved to be part of customary international law. The principle of universal jurisdiction allows any State to bring to trial a person or persons accused of committing certain crimes against international law, regardless of the location of commission of the crime, or the nationality of the victim or perpetrator. With the system of universal jurisdiction, no violation of IHL shall remain in impunity.

If a State is unwilling to prosecute an offender within its territory, the alleged offender is to be handed out to any Party to the Convention who can make out a prima facie case. In any case, global politics is an impeding factor in the implementation and enforcement of IHL. Because it is in the Security Council or other international fora, or in the domestic setting, consensus-building efforts and political mediation around accountability and enforcement is necessary. The significant progress through the development of international norms, legal frameworks and institutions for human rights and humanitarian protection demonstrates, does not mean that enforcement comes automatic.