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 dv-badih@eda.admin.ch

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Joint Initiative of Switzerland and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Strengthening Compliance with International Humanitarian Law (IHL)

Consistent compliance with international humanitarian law alleviates the suffering of civilians in armed conflicts. Against this backdrop, Switzerland and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are facilitating consultations with the international community how to improve compliance with international humanitarian law by developing stronger international mechanisms.

The promotion of international humanitarian law (IHL) is a Swiss foreign policy objective which can reduce the suffering of civilians in armed conflicts. The key is not to develop new law but to strengthen compliance with existing rules. There is a lack of effective international mechanisms to identify and prevent violations of IHL.

Switzerland and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have launched an initiative to strengthen compliance with IHL. They are facilitating consultations and discussions with the international community concerning the establishment of effective mechanisms. The initiative is based on Resolution 1 on strengthening legal protection for victims of armed conflicts, which was adopted at the 31st International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 2011 in Geneva.


http://rcrcconference.org/docs_upl/en/R1_Strengthening_IHL_EN.pdf Resolution 1 (en) 

The process to date
The initiative was launched at a first Informal Meeting of States on 13 July 2012. The meeting confirmed that there was a general concern about the widespread lack of compliance with IHL and recognised the need for a dialogue among States on improving respect for this body of law.

At two informal meetings with a group of States in 2012 and 2013, it was examined why existing mechanisms have never or rarely ever worked and what possible alternative mechanisms could be developed.

The results of these consultations were discussed at the Second Meeting of States on 17 and 18 June 2013. The delegations agreed that the following possibilities to improve the situation ought to be explored in subsequent consultations:

  • regular thematic discussions on IHL issues
  • periodic reporting on national compliance with IHL
  • a fact-finding mechanism to investigate alleged violations of IHL
  • creation of a regular Meeting of States as a forum on issues relating to compliance with and implementation of IHL

Next steps
The Third Meeting of States will take place on 30 June and 1 July 2014. Ahead of this meeting, the four themes mentioned above were discussed at two Preparatory Discussions.

In accordance with Resolution 1, the results of the consultations will be submitted to the 32nd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in .


Documents related to the to the Initiative to strengthen compliance with IHL

http://www.eda.admin.ch/etc/medialib/downloads/edazen/topics/intla.Par.0031.File.tmp/Factsheet_Compliance_October%202013_EN.pdf Fact sheet on the Swiss/ICRC Initiative on Strengthening Compliance with International Humanitarian Law (IHL) English, October 2013 

Third Meeting of States on Strengthening Compliance with IHL, June 2014
 Discours d’ouverture du président de la Confédération M. Didier Burkhalter, Third Meeting of States 2014 (fr) (pdf, 325 Kb)
 Opening speech of the President of the ICRC Mr Peter Maurer, Third Meeting of States 2014 (en) (pdf, 163 Kb) 
 Background Document (en) (pdf, 252 Kb)

Preparatory Discussion of April 2014
 Chairs’ Conclusions, April 2014 (en) (pdf, 237 Kb)  
 Background Document, April 2014 (en) (pdf, 489 Kb)

Preparatory Discussion of December 2013
 Chair's Conclusions, December 2013 (en) (pdf, 181 Kb)
 Background Document, December 2013 (en) (pdf, 626 Kb)

Second Meeting of States on Strengthening Compliance with IHL, June 2013
 Chairs’ Conclusions, June 2013 (en) (pdf, 114 Kb)
 Second Meeting of States, June 2013 (en) (pdf, 639 Kb)

 Discours d’ouverture du Conseiller fédéral M. Didier Burkhalter, Second Meeting of States 2013 (fr) (pdf, 75 Kb)
 Opening speech of the Federal Councillor Mr Didier Burkhalter, Second Meeting of States 2013 (en) (pdf, 83 Kb)
 Opening Speech of the President of the ICRC Mr Peter Maurer, Second Meeting of States 2013 (en) (pdf, 48 Kb) 

Discussion with a group of States, April 2013
 Chairs’ Conclusions, April 2013 (en) (pdf, 46 Kb)
 Background Document, April 2013 (en) (pdf, 521 Kb)

Discussion with a group of States, November 2012
 Chairs’ Conclusions, November 2012 (en) (pdf, 42 Kb)
 Background Document, November 2012 (en) (pdf, 129 Kb)

Initial Meeting of States, July 2012
 Concluding Remarks, July 2012 (en) (pdf, 43 Kb)
 Background Document, July 2012 (en) (pdf, 123 Kb)