The past few years have seen an increase in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)’s focus on international humanitarian law (IHL), a trend that started before and goes beyond the 2019 commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the 1949 Geneva Conventions. In 2019, the UNSC notably adopted resolutions on missing persons in armed conflict, as well as on the situation of persons with disabilities in armed conflict and humanitarian emergencies (resolutions 2474 and 2475, respectively).
However, contrary to other thematic issues such as the rule of law or individual criminal accountability, little attention has been paid to the consistency – or lack thereof – of the UNSC’s practice in relation to IHL.
Resulting from traditional legal research and informal interviews – to the extent feasible – with experts (scholars, diplomats, as well as representatives of the United Nations (UN), NGOs, and relevant international organizations), this project aims at critically assessing how the UNSC has recently dealt with IHL.
The project’s work has so far been divided into two phases, each corresponding to the calendar years 2020 and 2021.
- Drawing from the UNSC’s recent practice as well as from identifiable legal and/or political dynamics, the work undertaken in 2020 particularly focused on the potential positive influence of the organ’s elected members (the so-called ‘E10’). It notably formulated recommendations to policy-makers working with this organ to ensure consistency in addressing IHL issues.
- The work undertaken in 2021 aims at assessing whether – and, if so, how – mandating UN peacekeeping operations contributes to ensuring respect for IHL in the sense of article 1 common to the Geneva Conventions of 1949. It will notably highlight elements worth considering by members of the UNSC who contemplate using peacekeeping for promoting respect for this legal framework.