12 August 2019
The Geneva Conventions turn 70 today. As an academic institution, we work every day to uphold knowledge of and respect for international humanitarian law (IHL) and thus protect people affected by armed conflicts.
In the heart of international Geneva, at Villa Moynier – which was the property of Gustave Moynier, one of the founders and the first President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) – we train young people, experts and practitioners, inform policy via cutting-edge legal research and policy studies, and organize events and expert meeting to discuss topical IHL issues and challenges.
While 70 years have passed, the Geneva Conventions still constitute the cornerstone of our work on IHL.
In this opinion piece, our Director, Professor Marco Sassòli, notably recalls the role of the Geneva Academy in disseminating the basic messages of the Geneva Conventions and in clarifying their meaning in contemporary circumstances. He also addresses the current lack of an implementation mechanism that would enhance respect for IHL.
Every year, we train via our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and Executive Master in International Law in Armed Conflict around 60 young people and 25 practitioners in IHL and the protection afforded by the Geneva Conventions to people affected by armed conflicts.
Our research examines IHL issues that are under-explored or need clarification and thus advances the understanding and stimulates debate in the academic community and in policy-making institutions and government. Our findings regularly inform policy recommendations and support practitioners working on IHL and humanitarian action and diplomacy.
Today, the ICRC published an anniversary highlight with examples we elaborated that illustrate the impact of the Geneva Conventions since their adoption. These examples form part of the ICRC online casebook to which our LLM students and our Director, Professor Marco Sassòli, regularly contribute.
Our collaboration with the ICRC goes well beyond this online casebook and includes collaborations around our research, events, training courses for academics and Geneva-based diplomats, as well as internships for our LLM students.
We regularly convene expert meetings, seminars, conferences and events which provide a critical and scholarly forum for experts and practitioners to discuss and debate topical IHL issues and challenges.
Our experts are also regularly invited to provide advice to governments, international organizations and international courts and tribunals on key IHL topics.
Our Strategic Adviser on IHL, Dr Annyssa Bellal, has for instance been invited to brief tomorrow the UN Security Council in New York on the Geneva Conventions.
Mona Koehler-Schindler works at the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and follows the programme online.
Ten students from the 2020-2021 classes of our LLM and MAS in Transitional Justice are starting a one-year traineeship at the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva.
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.
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.
This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, focuses on the role of public international law in international relations and on international legal persons.
This project examined how IHL could be more systematically, appropriately and correctly dealt with by the human rights mechanisms emanating from the UN Charter, as well as from universal and regional treaties.