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Organization of American States: presentation of the report on progress in the field of IHL on the American continent

15-02-2006 News Release

On 2 February 2006, for the fifth consecutive year, the ICRC presented its annual report on progress achieved and activities undertaken regarding national application of international humanitarian law (IHL) on the American continent during the preceding year to the Special Session of the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs on current issues in international humanitarian law of the Organization of American States.

This document, which aims to inform the member States of the OAS regarding trends in adhesion to treaties related to IHL and the national application thereof, was produced by the Latin America unit of the ICRC’s Advisory Service on International Humanitarian Law.

The report focuses on the victims of armed conflict, war crimes, arms, protection of cultural property during armed conflict, promotion of IHL and the national committees.

The overall situation in the region is reasonably positive. The States of the Americas have made substantial progress on adhesion to treaties and their implementation, including the creation of IHL committees, etc.

One indication of this is the list of 20 new ratifications of various instruments in fields as fundamental to the protection of the victims of armed conflict as prosecution for war crimes, the prohibition on the recruitment of children for armed conflict, the protection of cultural property against the effects of armed conflict and restrictions on the use of certain particularly injurious weapons. Progress with national implementation is reflected in the more than 40 laws on the above subjects that have been enacted and the 25 or so that are currently at the draft stage.

Nonetheless, closer examination of national implementation of these treaties shows that there is still a considerable discrepancy between international obligations and compliance therewith. In other words, much of the effort invested has yet to bear fruit.

The report will be of value to the member States of the OAS and others by virtue of the overview it provides concerning progress in adhesion to instruments of IHL and their implementation at national level in the region. This overview will facilitate the development of strategies for continuing the work already started. The ICRC reiterates its willingness to support the States in these processes, via the legal and technical advice of its Advisory Service.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Servicio de Asesoramiento, Unidad América Latina, Mexico, tel: +5255 - 52554355