Launch of the Updated Commentary on the First Geneva Convention

06 April 2016

On 22 March 2016, the ICRC hosted a panel for the Launch of the Updated Commentary on the First Geneva Convention. This livestreamed event offered the Commentaries' perspective on key humanitarian issues while showing their practical utility on the ground. The event was part of the Conference Cycle on "Generating Respect for the Law", which aims at reasserting the importance of IHL and of prevention efforts.


Since their adoption in 1949, the Geneva Conventions have been put to the test and there have been significant developments in how they are applied and interpreted in practice. In order to trace these developments and provide up-to-date interpretations, the ICRC and a team of experts embarked on a major project to update the Commentaries on the Conventions. The first instalment of this ambitious project is now available: the updated Commentary on the First Convention. This publication addresses a range of important issues such as the scope of the obligation to respect and ensure respect for humanitarian law, the beginning and end of armed conflict and the protection of the wounded and sick, medical facilities and personnel.

Keynote speech

  • Peter Maurer, President of the ICRC


  • Helen Durham, Director of International Law and Policy, ICRC


  • Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Head of Commentaries Update Unit, Legal Division, ICRC
  • Marja Lehto, Ambassador, Senior Expert on Public International Law, Finland
  • Geoffrey Corn, Professor of Law at South Texas College of Law and Lieutenant Colonel, US Army
  • Marisela Silva Chau, Legal Advisor to the Operations, Delegation in Afghanistan, ICRC