Launch of IHL Handbook for Malaysian Parliamentarians
The Geneva Conventions of 1949 are at the core of international humanitarian law (IHL), which seeks to limit the humanitarian effects of war by protecting people who are not and no longer participating in hostilities and by regulating weapons and their use. The Geneva Conventions provide specific rules for the treatment of combatants who are wounded, sick and shipwrecked, prisoners of war and civilians amid armed conflicts, as well as for the protection of medical personnel, essential civilian infrastructure and the red cross and red crescent emblems. It seeks to preserve humanity based on the guiding principle that even wars have limits
To ensure that these rules are respected during armed conflicts, the four Geneva Conventions require states to implement certain measures and prevent violations during peacetime. These measures include integration into domestic laws and military doctrines, translating the Geneva Conventions into the national language and promoting the understanding of these rules among a wider population. Given their unique position in the state structure, parliamentarians are therefore pivotal in the domestic implementation of the Geneva Conventions, particularly in adopting legislation for effective enforcement of these rules and the protection of the emblems; facilitating the relevant processes, policies and budgets; and supporting the promotion of these rules.
This was why "Promoting Respect for International Humanitarian Law: A Handbook for Malaysian Parliamentarians" was developed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Malaysian Red Crescent Society (MRCS). While it was written to serve as a reference for Malaysian parliamentarians in carrying out relevant roles, it also provides a general introduction to IHL and to the work of the ICRC, the MRCS and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement particularly in Malaysia.
The launch of this seminal handbook today – jointly organized by the ICRC and MRCS with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Malaysian parliament and the Institute for Political Reform and Democracy (REFORM Malaysia) – will be followed by a round-table discussion themed around the 60th anniversary of Malaysia's accession to the Geneva Conventions this year. This round table will not only highlight Malaysia's commitment and contributions to humanitarian action domestically and globally since 1962, but also identify concrete ways forward to ensure and promote respect for the Geneva Conventions and IHL.
Watch the launch that took place in Parliament, below: