1. Constitutional structure and position of IHL in domestic law
The Republic of Austria is a federal parliamentary State. The legislative function of the federal government is exercised by a bicameral Federal Assembly [Bundesversammlung], consisting of the Federal Council [Bundesrat] and the National Council [Nationalrat] (house of representatives). The federal President represents the Republic towards the outside world and conclude treaties.
According to Article 9(1) of the Federal Constitutional Law, "the generally recognized rules of International Law are regarded as integral parts of federal law.". Article 50 of the Federal Constitutional Law states that the "political State treaties, [and] others insofar as their contents are law-amending or law-supplementing [...], may only be concluded with the authorization of the National Council". Such treaties generally enter into force at the end of the day on which they are published by the Chancellor in the Federal Law Gazette (Article 49). The Constitutional Court decides on the legality of State Treaties (Article 140).
Austria ratified the Geneva Conventions of 1949 on 27 August 1953 and the Additional Protocols of 1977 on 13 August 1982. The Geneva Conventions were incorporated into Austrian law through their publication in Federal Law Gazette No. 155/1953, and the Additional Protocols in Federal Law Gazette No. 527/1982. Austria accepted the competence of the International Fact-Finding Commission under Article 90 of Protocol I on 13 August 1982.
2. Implementing institution
The Austrian Interministerial Working Group on the Dissemination and Implementation of International Humanitarian Law was established in 1988. It is chaired by the head of the Human Rights Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and made up of representatives of the Chancellery, the Ministries of Defence, Justice and the Interior, the Austrian Red Cross and the University of Vienna.
Its main activities have been organizing and promoting humanitarian law treaties and preparations for the 26th and 27th International Conferences of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.
3. Legal advisers to the armed forces
The Minister of Defence issued a decree on 10 November 1999 establishing legal advisers within the Austrian Army.
- R. REGNER, A. REINISCH, "Zur Umsetzung der österreichischen Verpflichtungen gegenüber dem Jugoslawien-Tribunal der Vereinten Nationen, Österreichische Juristen-Zeitung, Heft 14-15, 14 July 1995, pp. 543-560.