International humanitarian law, human rights and peace operations

02-02-2009 Report

31st Round Table on Current Problems of International Humanitarian Law,San Remo, 4-6 September 2008. International Institute of Humanitarian Law in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross.


 For thirty-one years now, the International Institute of Humanitarian Law has devoted its annual Round Table to current problems of international humanitarian law.  


 The subject chosen this year, “International Humanitarian Law, Human Rights and Peace Operations”, is a topic of particular relevance and importance on the international agenda. The rule of law is a key element of modern “peace operations”.  


 This term encompasses a broad range of different missions, (peace enforcement, peacekeeping, peacebuilding, peace support, etc), in which a plurality of actors are involved such as States, international organisations, “coalitions of the willing”, and non-governmental organisations. It is, therefore, crucial to re-affirm the complementarity of international humanitarian law and human rights, the better to clarify the modalities of the interaction of different legal regimes and to reach an understanding on the applicability of new concepts, such as the doctrine of “the responsibility to protect”.  


 Over the years, the Sanremo September Round Tables have evolved from a small academic gathering into a large international forum where government leaders, military commanders, scholars and members of civil society can exchange ideas, in an informal framework and constructive atmosphere, on new challenges concerning international humanitarian law and human rights.  


 In 2008 more than 400 people attended the meeting. The debate contributed to highlighting a number of sensitive issues, including the problems of preventing and reporting violations, of accountability, detention policies and the role and responsibilities of non-state actors.  


 I am confident that the publication of the complete proceedings will help to underscore the increasing importance of the promotion and enforcement of international humanitarian law and human rights in a rapidly changing security environment.  


 The President of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law Maurizio Moreno