8 June 2017 18:15 - 20:30

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

About the event

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 8 June 2017, the ICRC will convene a conference at the Humanitarium as part of its conference cycle on Generating respect for the law. Historians, lawyers, military officers and diplomats will reflect on the link between humanitarianism and peace, the impact of the APs on the practice of parties to armed conflicts and their practical relevance for today's conflicts.

This conference will be divided into two parts (with a 15 mins break):

18h15 – 19h00: a historical perspective by Professor Irène Herrmann about the equation between humanitarianism and peace, and the role of the ICRC until the adoption of the APs in 1977. This discussion will draw reflections on the two-day symposium "Humanitarian action & the Pursuit of Peace" held on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of ICRC's Nobel Prize. It will be introduced by Mr. François Longchamp, President of the Council of State of the Republic and Canton of Geneva.

19h15 – 20h30: a panel discussion inviting four experts to explore the political environment during the adoption of the APs, to take stock of the 40 years of military practice since their adoption and to discuss their humanitarian impact on the lives of people affected by armed conflict.

The conference will be followed by a cocktail reception.



Together with the Geneva Conventions, the APs form the foundations of modern IHL and are the cornerstone 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 in increasing 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.

18h15-19h00: Humanitaire et paix: une équation impossible? (in French)

Opening remarks

• François Bugnion, Member of the ICRC
• François Longchamp, President of the Council of State of the Republic and Canton of Geneva


• Irène Herrmann, Professor of History, University of Geneva

19h00-19h15: BREAK

19h15-20h30: The Additional Protocols at 40: upholding humanity in today's conflicts (In English)


• Vincent Bernard, Editor in Chief of the International Review of the Red Cross and Head of the Law and Policy Forum, ICRC


• Yves Sandoz, Honorary Member of the ICRC, Honorary Professor, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights
• Helen Cecilia Obregon Gieseken, Thematic Legal Advisor, ICRC
• Frank Ledwidge, Barrister and former British Military Officer and Lecturer, Royal Air Force College Cranwell
• Jonathan Cuénoud, Legal Advisor, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs

Date & Time

8 June 2017 18:15 - 20:30

Venue address

17 avenue de la paix, 1202 Geneva