International humanitarian law (IHL) affords protection to people and property in armed conflict, but only if its rules are properly recognized, clearly understood and fully complied with.
The first and vital step in ensuring the effectiveness of the law's protection is by States adopting or ratifying the relevant legal instruments. But other actions must also be carried out domestically, beginning in peacetime, to enable compliance with the law. National committees and other similar bodies that are specifically dedicated to IHL can advise and assist governments in fulfilling this complex task. By November 2018, 111 countries had such bodies.
This document provides an overview of the role and work of these national IHL committees. It outlines how to make the committee work well, looking at the committee’s membership and detailing features that have proved necessary for committees to fulfil their role. It concludes with some templates to help national IHL committees carry out their work effectively.