ICRC relations with armed forces

29-10-2010 Overview

Maintaining a dialogue with the armed forces is an integral part of ICRC’s operations around the world. The aim is to ensure that all levels of the armed forces know and apply IHL and Human Rights law in their operations and facilitate humanitarian action for the victims of conflict.



© ICRC / T. Gassmann / ch-e-00173

Most ICRC field personnel are engaged in dialogue with the military in some way, whether at check-points, in visits to detainees held at military barracks or when trying to find the whereabouts of missing people. Additionally, 32 specialized delegates, most of them former military officers, are stationed in selected delegations around the world, covering one or more countries in their respective regions in an ongoing dialogue. In the event of an armed conflict or a disaster, when issues of coordination are raised between the military and the Movement, the ICRC may reinforce its specialized presence. All ICRC personnel contribute to the dialogue with armed forces within a unified framework for relations with all arms carriers.

ICRC delegates to the armed forces facilitate the organisation’s understanding of the military as well as its networking with key individuals at different levels. They also facilitate ICRC's operations by providing the military with an understanding of the organisation's mandate, its modus operandi and its activities, as well as of the applicable legal framework. This is done by taking part in conferences, exercises or pre-deployment briefings.

Specialized delegates support the efforts of armed forces to disseminate IHL or IHRL, to integrate these norms into their doctrine, education and training and to adopt disciplinary and penal sanctions in the event of violations. They support ICRC colleagues or engage directly in dialogue with armed forces on the conduct of hostilities or of law enforcement. Delegates in the field are supported in their dialogue by a specialized unit at headquarters: ICRC's unit for relations with arms carriers.