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.
During one week, Berta Fernández Rosón, Melina Fidelis Tzourou and Yulia Mogutova – currently enrolled in our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights – represented the Geneva Academy at the 34th edition of the Jean-Pictet Competition that took place in Denpasar, Indonesia. They reached the finals of the competition.
The non-international armed conflict in Turkey – which opposes the Turkish army and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) – has been updated with a section on the origins of the conflict, information about its evolution in 2019-2020, and an analysis as to whether the TAK, a splinter group of the PKK, is also a party to this NIAC.
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.
This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, examines the sources of international humanitarian law (IHL). It provides an introduction to the key principles and terminology of IHL.
Resulting from traditional legal research and informal interviews with experts, the project 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.
This project intends to clarify the conditions of accountability for international crimes by providing a detailed assessment of the customary international law status of, in particular, the actus reus and mens rea elements of modes of liability: planning, instigating, conspiracy, direct and indirect perpetration, co-perpetration, the three forms of joint criminal enterprise, the doctrine of common purpose under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, command responsibility and aiding and abetting.