New Expert Pool Will Strengthen the Capacity of Human Rights Mechanisms to Incorporate IHL into Their Work

29 September 2022

Composed of thematically and geographically representative experts in the field of international humanitarian law (IHL), our new IHL Expert Pool (IHL-EP) aims to strengthen the capacity of human rights mechanisms to incorporate IHL into their work in an efficacious and comprehensive manner.

‘As IHL does not set out effective mechanisms to ensure compliance, victims of IHL violations increasingly engage other fora to facilitate implementation of IHL or obtain reparation. As a consequence, human rights mechanisms are increasingly engaging with IHL’ explains Dr Erica Harper, Head of Research and Policy Studies at the Geneva Academy.

‘Our IHL Expert Pool responds to this trend by addressing the normative and practical challenges that human rights bodies encounter when dealing with cases in which IHL applies’ she adds.

Providing Expert Advice

The IHL-EP provides expert advice to human rights mechanisms on a solicited and non-solicited basis.

Examples include bespoke technical guidance, the submission of amicus curiae briefs, preparation of language for reports by UN special rapporteurs, and inputs to the work of investigative mechanisms. The IHL-EP also delivers training for human rights bodies, courts and other fora.

The project is managed by our Head of Research and Policy Studies Dr Erica Harper and led by our Research Fellow Dr Francesco Romani.

Third Party Intervention in the ECtHR Case Ukraine v. Russia (X)

Along with 23 governments, the Geneva Academy – via its IHL-EP – requested to intervene as a third party in the proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) concerning the case of Ukraine v. Russia (X) (application no. 11055/22).

This inter-State case concerns the Ukrainian Government’s allegations of mass and gross human rights violations committed by the Russian Federation in its military operations on the territory of Ukraine since 24 February 2022.

‘In our request, we offered to provide an informed and balanced analysis of several, crucial issues raised by that case. These include the extra-territorial application of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the attribution of conduct and its interaction with the questions of establishing jurisdiction and classifying armed conflicts, the relationship between the ECHR and the international legal prohibition on the threat or use of force, and the interplay between the ECHR and IHL’ explains Dr Francesco Romani, Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy.

‘By participating in court proceedings such as this, and delivering rigorous and neutral advice on questions pertaining to the interplay between IHL and human rights law, our IHL-EP works to enhance the legal protection afforded victims of armed conflict’ underlines Dr Harper.

Next Steps

This request will now be examined by the Court. If leave to intervene is granted, the Geneva Academy and its IHL-EP will be assigned a time-limit to submit their intervention in writing. The latter document will then be forwarded to the parties to the case for consideration and reply.

The ultimate purpose of the intervention as a third party is to assist the Court to discharge its function in accordance with ‘the interests of the proper administration of justice’.

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