International Committee of the Red Cross

The ICRC Advisory Service on international humanitarian law

Article 01 January 2015

As a specialized structure of the ICRC, the Advisory Service assists States to implement IHL at the national level. With a global network of legal advisers, the Service provides guidance to national authorities on specific domestic implementation measures needed to meet their IHL obligations, and it supports the work of national IHL bodies established to facilitate IHL implementation domestically. Moreover, the Service supports the exchange of information on national measures of implementation. Besides providing legal advice and technical support, the Service helps in capacity building, upon specific request of national authorities and other concerned actors.

The ICRC's Advisory Service works closely with national governments, taking into account their specific needs, political systems, and legal traditions – with a view to all States adopting IHL treaties and other relevant instruments and putting in place comprehensive national legislation.

To provide governments with both legal advice and technical assistance regarding IHL implementation, the Advisory Service works through a global network of legal advisers possessing appropriate skills and experience. The Service, maintains bilateral contacts with national authorities, organizes thematic expert workshops, and it sponsors regional and international peer meetings for relevant State authorities. Its legal advisers work closely with National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, academic institutions and other relevant groups and individuals.

The exchange of information on IHL laws, case law, and other adopted measures is facilitated through a growing number of ICRC specialized tools, including the ICRC Database on National Implementation of IHL . This database contains a collection of laws and case law dealing with IHL norms.

To foster understanding of IHL and to further the ICRC's work on IHL implementation, the Advisory Service cooperates with relevant international and regional organizations such as UNESCO, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Council of Europe, the Organization of American States, and the International Criminal Court.