Strengthening compliance with international humanitarian law (IHL): The work of the ICRC and the Swiss government.
Insufficient respect for applicable rules is the principal cause of suffering during armed conflicts. The The ICRC and the Swiss government are currently undertaking a major consultation process on how to improve compliance with IHL by developing stronger international mechanisms.
What is this initiative?
The ICRC and the Swiss government are undertaking consultation and research on possible ways to improve compliance with IHL through the establishment of more effective international mechanisms.
Why the focus on compliance with IHL?
Unfortunately, IHL continues to be violated frequently by both States and non-State armed groups. If IHL was better respected, there would be less suffering. At present, for example, IHL lacks effective means of identifying, preventing and halting violations while they are occurring. The mechanisms within IHL that do exist are rarely, if ever used. Moreover, they are only applicable in international armed conflict, whereas the majority of conflicts are now non-international.
The consultation process so far
Pursuant to Resolution 1 of the 31st International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (2011), the ICRC and the Swiss government are facilitating consultations with States and other relevant actors. This has involved bilateral and multilateral meetings, including:
- Preparatory discussion on Strengthening compliance with IHL, December 2013
- Second Meeting of States on Strengthening Compliance with IHL, June 2013
Opening speech, ICRC President Peter Maurer;
Opening speech, Swiss Federal Councillor, Mr Didier Burkhalter,
Meeting with a group of States, April 2013
- Meeting with a group of States, November 2012
- Initial informal Meeting of States on Strengthening Compliance with IHL, July 2012
- On 3 and 4 April 2014, another preparatory discussion on Strengthening compliance with IHL will be held in Geneva, open to all States. This meeting will primarily discuss issues related to the third meeting of States, touch on fact-finding, and revisit some questions discussed at the December 2013 preparatory discussion.
- On 30 June and 1 July 2014, the third meeting of all States will be held in Geneva, to consider the results of these two preparatory meetings and discuss next steps. These meetings will be complemented by bilateral consultations with States and other relevant actors.