5 October 2021
From Mali to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kosovo or Cyprus, the United Nations (UN) is currently leading 12 peacekeeping operations across the globe.
Our new Working Paper The UN Security Council and Common Article 1: Understanding the Role of Peacekeeping Operations in Ensuring Respect for IHL examines the applicability of article 1 common to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 – on the obligation to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law (IHL) – to the UN, with a specific focus on peacekeeping operations.
Written by our former Researcher Emilie Max, it examines how modern peacekeeping operations with multidimensional mandates engage in activities aimed at – or amounting to – promoting compliance with IHL, including in relation to the thematic agenda items of the UN Security Council (UNSC) – namely Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict; Women, Peace and Security; and Children in Armed Conflict.
UN Photo/Manuel Elias
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe>
Although not mentioned in the UN Charter, peacekeeping has become one of the most essential tools at the UN’s disposal for fulfilling its mandate to maintain international peace and security. Such a tool gradually evolved from straightforward military operations to multidimensional mandates with an ever-increasing number of activities aimed at protecting civilians from the violence of armed conflict.
If the contribution of peacekeeping operations to the preservation of human dignity has often been examined through the lens of the protection and promotion of human rights, the same does not necessarily hold true with regard to IHL.
‘This Working Paper precisely aims at filling this gap by assessing whether – and, if so, how –peacekeeping operations contribute to ensuring respect for IHL in the sense of common article 1’ explains Emilie Max.
UK Mission to the UN/Lorey Campese>
The author concludes her paper with a series of recommendations for prospective or current UNSC members that contemplate using peacekeeping for promoting respect for IHL.
‘For instance, if the mandates of peacekeeping operations include the prevention and suppression of IHL violations, states should ensure that peacekeepers can implement these tasks. This implies that the UN Secretariat provides appropriate strategic guidance, that sufficient human and financial resources are allocated to missions, and that there is commensurate political will emanating from the UNSC’ underlines Emilie Max.
‘Similarly, certain activities included in peacekeeping operations’ mandates in order to protect civilians from the violence of armed conflict – like training on IHL – should consistently be implemented in close cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross, other humanitarian organizations and relevant UN agencies’ she adds.
UN Photo/Manuel Elias>
This Working Paper is part of our larger research project led by Emilie Max that aims at critically assessing how the UNSC has recently dealt with IHL.
It follows another publication Room for Manoeuvre? Promoting International Humanitarian Law and Accountability While at the United Nations Security Council: A Reflection on the Role of Elected Members that assessed the UNSC’s recent engagement with IHL and accountability.
Daniel Fyfe follows our online Executive Master in International Law in Armed Conflict while working as an Associate Expert at OHCHR in Geneva on UN treaty bodies’ individual communications procedures.
In and Around War(s) is a new podcast series of the Geneva Academy on contemporary legal issues related to wars.
In this talk, Professor Frédéric Mégret will seek to excavate an understanding of IHL as partly about protecting one’s population rather than minimizing harm to ‘other’ populations.
Special Jurisdiction for Peace
In this discussion co-organized with the Permanent Mission of Colombia to the UN in Geneva, the President of Colombia's Special Jurisdiction for Peace Magistrate Roberto Vidal will discuss the challenges and achievements of this body.
Organized by the Geneva Academy and the ICRC, the Advanced IHL seminar for academics and humanitarian policymakers aims to enhance the capacity of academics to teach and research IHL and contemporary issues arising during armed conflict, while also equipping policymakers with an in-depth understanding of ongoing legal debates and their relevance to decision-making.
The Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts project (RULAC) is a unique online portal that identifies and classifies all situations of armed violence that amount to an armed conflict under international humanitarian law (IHL). It is primarily a legal reference source for a broad audience, including non-specialists, interested in issues surrounding the classification of armed conflicts under IHL.
Dave Klassen/The EITI
This project aimed at identifying and clarifying policies and practices for states and businesses, including public and private investors, across the full ‘conflict cycle’ and the ‘protect, respect and remedy’ pillars of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.