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, former 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.
Christian Lue, Unplash
As the EU is revising its legislation on seed marketing, the Geneva Academy is inputting this process to ensure that the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and its article 19 on the right to seeds are taken into account.
The expert meeting, organized with the Roma Tre University Law Department, focused on the content of the second issue paper of the International Law Commission Working Group which deals with the protection of persons affected by sea-level rise and statehood.
This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, will cover the ‘nuts and bolts’ of implementation, including national legislation, dissemination and training, and discuss the mechanisms such as the International Fact-Finding Commission, as set out in the treaties.
Dustan Woodhouse, Unplash
This training course will explore the major international and regional instruments for the promotion of human rights, as well as with their implementation and enforcement mechanisms; and provide practical insights into the different UN human rights mechanisms pertinent to advancing environmental issues and protecting environmental human rights defenders.
This project will facilitate a multistakeholder consultative process to identify knowledge gaps, generate new evidence and co-design evidence-based tools to support regulatory and policy responses to human rights challenges linked to digital technologies.