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Work on international humanitarian law in armed conflicts at sea and on land

31-12-1986 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 256

25th International Conference of the Red Cross, Geneva, 23 to 31 October 1986, Resolution 7

The Twenty-fifth International Conference of the Red Cross,

 recalling the general principle of the protection of the civilian population against the effects of hostilities, the principle of international law that the right of the Parties to an armed conflict to choose methods or means of warfare is not unlimited, and the principle that prohibits the employment in armed conflicts of weapons, projectiles and material and methods of warfare of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering,

 underlining that these principles are a fundamental part of the law in this field which has been continuously reaffirmed, clarified and developed,

 recalling the adoption by a United Nations Conference, on 10 October 1980, of a Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons which may be deemed to be excessively injurious or to have indiscriminate effects and of its annexed Protocols,

 recalling also Resolution IX of the Twenty-fourth International Conference of the Red Cross,

 noting that the international humanitarian law of sea warfare and land warfare could be clarified to facilitate the implementation of the principles referred to above and increase the respect for international humanitarian law applicable in armed conflicts in general,

 believing that further efforts as to the reaffirmation, clarification and development of international humanitarian law applicable in armed conflicts should be considered in areas relating to sea and land warfare, without prejudice to the need for further specific regulations later on,

 A  

 1.     notes the fact that international humanitarian law relating to land warfare to a large extent has been reaffirmed and developed and that some areas of international humanitarian law relating to sea warfare are in need of reaffirmation and clarification on the basis of existing fundamental principles of international humanitarian law,

 2. notes the contribution and activities of, inter alia, the United Nations in this   field    and stresses relevant parts of the reports of the United Nations on this subject,

 3. appeals therefore to governments to co-ordinate their efforts in appropriate fora in order to review the necessity and the possibility of updating the relevant texts of international humanitarian law relating to sea warfare,

 4. invites the ICRC to follow these matters and to keep the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent informed;

 B  

 1. notes that, although international humanitarian law relating to land warfare has been subject to recent review, a number of issues need the continued attention of the international community,

 2. urges all States that have not yet done so to exert their best endeavours to become Parties to the 1980 above-mentioned Convention and the Protocols annexed thereto as early as possible so as ultimately to obtain universality of adherence,

 3. notes that, under Article 8 of the Convention, conferences may be convened, inter alia:  

- to consider amendments to the Convention or any of the annexed Protocols,

- to consider additional protocols relating to other categories of conventional weapons not covered by the existing annexed Protocols,

- or to review the scope and operation of the Convention and the Protocols annexed thereto and to consider any proposal for amendments to the Convention or to the existing Protocols,

 4. notes with satisfaction the adoption by the Twenty-fourth International Conference of the Red Cross in 1981 of a resolution on conventional weapons, in particular on small-calibre weapons, and also notes the value of further work in this field,

 5. notes the dangers to civilians caused by mines, booby-traps and other devices employed during an armed conflict and the need for international co-operation in this field consistent with Article 9 of Protocol II attached to the 1980 Convention,

 6. notes that some governments have voiced their concern about the development of new weapons technologies the use of which, in certain circumstances, could be prohibited under existing international law,

 7. appeals to governments, with a view to meeting the sta ndards laid down in international humanitarian law, to co-ordinate their efforts to clarify the law in these fields and exercise the utmost care in the development of new weapons technologies,

 8. invites the ICRC to follow these matters and to keep the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent informed.




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