31 October 2019
Beyond the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), international humanitarian law (IHL) currently lacks mechanisms to ensure effectively its own compliance.
Such structural flaw has left victims of violations ‘in search of a forum’ and thus prompted a frequent recourse to the more-developed human rights machinery, even if the opportuneness of this tendency has long been – and remains – debated in both intergovernmental and scholarly forums.
‘Issues at stake include the fact that debates on IHL within human rights mechanisms have been criticized for being politicized and applying double standards; for misapplying and/or weakening IHL because of unrealistic requirements; for being unable to address non-State armed groups, which are bound by IHL; for antagonizing important stakeholders such as armed forces; or for weakening the human rights standards whose threshold is higher than that of IHL’ explains Professor Marco Sassòli, Director of the Geneva Academy.
Our new working paper Implementing International Humanitarian Law through Human Rights Mechanisms: Opportunity or Utopia? provides an overview of this trend, derives provisional lessons-learned on the opportuneness of human rights bodies dealing with IHL and examines issues that would deserve further academic and/or practical examination.
‘This paper does not pass any judgement on this trend – a trend so entrenched that would, in any case, prove hard to pause – but aims at contributing to its dispassionate assessment’ explains Emilie Max, Researcher at the Geneva Academy and author of the paper.
After a reminder on mechanisms established by the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their additional Protocols of 1977, the paper summarily frames the relationship between IHL and international human rights law and assess the competence and practice of political mechanisms emanating from the Charter of the United Nations, as well as of universal and regional treaty-based mechanisms.
Bringing academics and practitioners, the colloquium will notably discuss whether and how human rights mechanisms can contribute to the implementation of IHL without lowering the protection afforded by international human rights law or weakening the credibility of IHL. These are particularly relevant questions this year, the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions.
Sandra Pointet/Geneva Academy
The Geneva Academy Wednesdays take place on Wednesdays in the format of roundtables closed to the general public, where one or more PhD students from the Graduate Institute or the University of Geneva present their research, ideas, working papers or draft thesis chapters.
Our new publication addresses the handling of individual communications, tackles efficiency questions related to this procedure and outlines a series of key recommendations to improve the system, including the creation of a registry to provide substantive legal support to United Nations treaty bodies.
This event, hosted with the Geneva Center for Business and Human Rights, will discuss business strategies to identify, analyse and resolve risks for modern slavery in global supply chains.
This short course 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 provides an overview of the evolution of the rules governing the use of force in international law, focusing on military intervention on humanitarian grounds and the creation of the United Nations collective security system. It then addresses the concept of the responsibility to protect.
The Geneva Human Rights Platform contributes to this review process by providing expert input via different avenues, by facilitating dialogue on the review among various stakeholders, as well as by accompanying the development of a follow-up resolution to 68/268 in New York and in Geneva.
Against the background of the mobilization of ‘foreign fighters’ for the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, the Geneva Academy undertook various research projects to highlight and clarify a range of international law issues that arise through their participation and measures taken to stem their mobilization.