The Additional Protocols at 40: upholding humanity in today's conflicts

08 June 2017 18:15
The Additional Protocols at 40: upholding humanity in today's conflicts

Signature of the AP to the GCs of 12 August 1949 / LEBLANC, GÉRARD

To mark the 40th Anniversary of the Additional Protocols I and II (APs) on 08 June 2017 and as part of its conference cycle on Generating respect for the law, the ICRC will convene a panel discussion at the Humanitarium. Historians, lawyers, military officers and diplomats will reflect on the impact of the adoption of the APs on the practice of parties to armed conflicts and their practical relevance for today. The panel will explore the political environment during the adoption of the APs, take stock of the 40 years of military practice since their adoption and discuss the humanitarian impact they have on people affected by armed conflict.



Together with the Geneva Conventions, the APs form IHL's foundations and are the cornerstones for the protection and respect of human dignity in armed conflict. They are amongst the most widely ratified or acceded to international instruments, with 174 States Parties to API and 168 to APII. However, unlike the 1949 Geneva Conventions, the Protocols are not universally ratified. In this context, it is paramount to reflect on the reasons why some States still have not ratified the APs and which measures need to be taken to better implement, apply and enforce the APs.

The panel will first offer a retrospective about the geopolitical landscape during the Diplomatic Conference of 1977 and the main objectives set out at the time of the adoption of the APs. It will then discuss the main successes and achievements of the APs to increase the protection of people affected by armed conflict over the last 40 years. The debate will eventually touch on the challenges in applying the APs and their practical relevance in addressing pressing humanitarian concerns in today's armed conflicts.

This conference will also be part of the two-day symposium "Humanitarian action & the Pursuit of Peace" held on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of ICRC's Nobel Prize.

Opening remarks

Roger Durand, President of the Gustave Ador Foundation
François Longchamp, President of the Council of the Republic and Canton of Geneva

Introductory remarks

Irène Herrmann, Professor of History, University of Geneva


• Vincent Bernard, Editor in Chief of the International Review of the Red Cross


Yves Sandoz, honorary member of the ICRC, honorary professor of international humanitarian law at the Geneva Academy of international humanitarian law and human rights
Frank Ledwidge, Barrister and former British military officer and lecturer at the Royal Air Force College Cranwell
Jonathan Cuenoud, legal advisor, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
Helen Cecilia Obregon Gieseken, thematic legal advisor, International Committee of the Red Cross

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