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31st International Conference 2011: Resolution 1 - Strengthening legal protection for victims of armed conflicts

01-12-2011 Resolution

Strengthening legal protection for victims of armed conflicts

31st International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, Switzerland, 28 November - 1 December 2011

The 31st International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (International Conference),

deeply concerned that armed conflicts continue to cause enormous suffering, including violations of international humanitarian law, such as murder, forced disappearance, the taking of hostages, torture, cruel or inhumane treatment, rape and other forms of sexual violence, and that such suffering affects entire populations, including among the most vulnerable, in various parts of the world,

stressing that greater compliance with international humanitarian law is an indispensable prerequisite for improving the situation of victims of armed conflict and reaffirming the obligation of all States and all parties to armed conflict to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law in all circumstances,

recalling the universal ratification of the 1949 Geneva Conventions,

expressing the hope that other international humanitarian law treaties will also achieve universal acceptance, and inviting all States to consider ratifying or acceding to international humanitarian law treaties to which they are not yet party,

recalling Resolution 3 on the "Reaffirmation and implementation of international humanitarian law" adopted by the 30th International Conference,

reiterating that international humanitarian law remains as relevant today as ever before in international and non-international armed conflicts and continues to provide protection for all victims of armed conflict,

recognizing the importance of having due regard to humanitarian considerations and military necessity arising from armed conflict, with the objective of ensuring that international humanitarian law remains essential in providing legal protection to all victims of armed conflict and that States and other parties to armed conflicts fully implement their obligations in this regard,

mindful of the need to strengthen international humanitarian law, in particular through its reaffirmation in situations when it is not properly implemented and its clarification or development when it does not sufficiently meet the needs of the victims of armed conflict,

emphasizing the primary role of States in the development of international humanitarian law,

recalling that one of the important roles of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in accordance with the Statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (Movement), is in particular "to work for the understanding and dissemination of knowledge of international humanitarian law applicable in armed conflicts and to prepare any development thereof", and further recalling the respective roles of the ICRC and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (National Societies) in the promotion, dissemination, implementation and development of international humanitarian law,

recalling that the functions of the International Conference, in accordance with the Statutes of the Movement, include "to contribute to the respect for and development of international humanitarian law and other international conventions of particular interest to the Movement",

taking note of the 2003 ICRC summary report on regional expert seminars related to "improving compliance with international humanitarian law" presented to the 28th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, as well as the 2009 report on a conference of experts entitled "60 Years of the Geneva Conventions and the Decades Ahead" prepared by the Swiss Government and the ICRC,
 

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1. thanks the ICRC for the report outlining the main conclusions of its study on strengthening legal protection for victims of armed conflicts and for the consultations carried out with States in this regard;

2. acknowledges that the report identifies serious humanitarian concerns and challenges that need to be addressed, in particular those related to the protection of persons deprived of their liberty in relation to armed conflict and the need to ensure greater compliance with international humanitarian law, and that, on the basis of the consultations, the report calls for concrete and coordinated action to address these concerns;

3. recognizes the importance of analyzsing the humanitarian concerns and military considerations related to the deprivation of liberty in relation to armed conflict with the aim, inter alia, of ensuring humane treatment, adequate conditions of detention, taking into account age, gender, disabilities and other factors that can increase vulnerability, and the requisite procedural and legal safeguards for persons detained, interned or transferred in relation to armed conflict;

4. recognizes, taking into account questions raised by States during the preparation of and in the debates at the 31st International Conference, that further research, consultation and discussion are needed to assess the most appropriate way to ensure that international humanitarian law remains practical and relevant in providing legal protection to all persons deprived of their liberty in relation to armed conflict;

5. recognizes, taking into account questions raised by States during the preparation of and in the debates at the 31st International Conference, the importance of exploring ways of enhancing and ensuring the effectiveness of mechanisms of compliance with international humanitarian law, with a view to strengthening legal protection for all victims of armed conflict;

6. invites the ICRC to pursue further research, consultation and discussion in cooperation with States and, if appropriate, other relevant actors, including international and regional organizations, to identify and propose a range of  options and its recommendations to: i) ensure that international humanitarian law remains practical and relevant in providing legal protection to all persons deprived of their liberty in relation to armed conflict; and ii) enhance and ensure the effectiveness of mechanisms of compliance with international humanitarian law, and encourages all members of the International Conference, including National Societies, to participate in this work while recognizing the primary role of States in the development of international humanitarian law;

7. notes that such work should be carried out taking into account existing relevant international legal regimes and other international processes on similar issues; in this sense expresses its appreciation to the government of Switzerland for its commitment to explore and identify concrete ways and means to strengthen the application of international humanitarian law and reinforce dialogue on international humanitarian law issues among States and other interested actors, in cooperation with the ICRC;

8. invites the ICRC to provide information on the progress of its work at regular intervals to all members of the International Conference and to submit a report on this work, with a range of options, to the 32nd International Conference, for its consideration and appropriate action.