Joint consultations Switzerland - ICRC on strengthening compliance with international humanitarian law

Armed conflicts cause enormous human suffering, especially among the affected civilian populations. One of the greatest humanitarian challenges is to improve respect for international humanitarian law. Between 2012 and 2015, Switzerland and the International Committee of the Red Cross jointly consulted States on ways and means of strengthening the application of international humanitarian law.

The protective legal framework established by international humanitarian law (IHL) is by and large adequate. The main challenge now is to strengthen respect for this body of law and to prevent the risk of erosion of its credibility.

Between 2012 and April 2015, Switzerland and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) undertook to consult States on possible means to strengthen the application of IHL and reinforce dialogue on IHL issues among States. This initiative was based on Resolution 1 of the 31st International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent 2011.

Resolution 1 (PDF, Number of pages 4, 145.2 kB)

In the course of the consultations, it was largely acknowledged that existing IHL compliance mechanisms are inadequate in light of the nature and complexity of contemporary armed conflicts. It was also recognized that there is an institutional vacuum in the area of IHL implementation. The Geneva Conventions lack a Conference of States Parties or a similar institutional forum, in which States can discuss the application of IHL and current and emerging challenges to compliance with it. Most States therefore expressed their support for the establishment of a regular Meeting of States on IHL.

Switzerland and the ICRC submitted various options and recommendations in a concluding report to the members of the 32nd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent of December 2015. On this basis, the International Conference decided to launch an intergovernmental process to find an agreement among States on the functions and features of a forum of States for IHL and to find ways of making better use of the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent and regional forums to enhance the application of IHL.

Documents

ABC of International Humanitarian Law (PDF, Number of pages 48, 1.2 MB, English)

Concluding Report, October 2015 (PDF, Number of pages 40, 617.4 kB)

Fourth Meeting of States on Strengthening Compliance with IHL, April 2015

Chairs’ Conclusions, Fourth Meeting of States 2015 (PDF, Number of pages 15, 271.6 kB, English)

Background Document, Fourth Meeting of States 2015 (PDF, Number of pages 48, 899.8 kB, English)

Preparatory Discussion of December 2014

Chairs’ Conclusions, December 2014 (PDF, Number of pages 15, 287.9 kB, English)

Background Document, December 2014 (PDF, Number of pages 46, 589.0 kB, English)

Third Meeting of States on Strengthening Compliance with IHL, June 2014

Chairs’ Conclusions, Third Meeting of States 2014 (PDF, Number of pages 16, 261.8 kB)

Background Document, Third Meeting of States 2014 (PDF, Number of pages 21, 232.5 kB, English)

Preparatory Discussion of April 2014

Chairs’ Conclusions, April 2014 (PDF, Number of pages 13, 243.6 kB, English)

Background Document, April 2014 (PDF, Number of pages 42, 501.0 kB, English)

Preparatory Discussion of December 2013

Chairs’ Conclusions, December 2013 (PDF, Number of pages 50, 186.3 kB, English)

Background Document, December 2013 (PDF, 746.6 kB, English)

Second Meeting of States on Strengthening Compliance with IHL,
June 2013

Chairs’ Conclusions, Second Meeting of States 2013 (PDF, Number of pages 3, 117.0 kB)

Background Document, Second Meeting of States 2013 (PDF, Number of pages 51, 711.4 kB, English)

Discussion with a group of States, April 2013

Chairs’ Conclusions, April 2013 (PDF, 47.4 kB)

Background Document, April 2013 (PDF, 534.1 kB)

Discussion with a group of States, November 2012

Chairs’ Conclusions, November 2012 (PDF, Number of pages 18, 39.3 kB, English)

Background Document, November 2012 (PDF, 132.2 kB, English)

Initial Meeting of States on Strengthening Compliance with IHL, July 2012

Chairs’ Conclusions, Initial Meeting of States 2012 (PDF, Number of pages 3, 40.3 kB, English)

Background Document, Initial Meeting of States 2012 (PDF, 126.5 kB, English)