Humanitarian law, action and policy

IRRC No. 856

This issue of the Review deals with a wide array of topics related to humanitarian law, action and policy. The edition addresses the phenomenon of the increasing privatization of defense and security tasks, the relationship between the law of occupation and Security Council Resolution 1483 regarding Iraq as well as the Early Warning Procedures employed by the Israel Defense Forces and the relationship between human rights law protection and international humanitarian law.

Table of contents

  • Editorial: Humanitarian law, action and policy

    The International Review of the Red Cross has reached the venerable age of 135. It bears witness to the continuity of the oldest organization with an international vocation, an institution which has brought assistance and protection to countless victims of armed conflicts. Formerly the official publication of the ICRC and a chronicle of its international activities, the Review now deals with law and policy matters which are of relevance for humanitarian action in times of armed conflict.

  • Existentialism in Iraq: Security Council Resolution 1483 and the law of occupation

    The law of occupation was an important part of the legal regime applicable in Iraq until the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi interim government in June 2004. Security Council Resolutions on Iraq, in particular Resolution 1483, also formed an important part of the applicable legal framework, a part which was not necessarily in all respects compatible with the law of occupation. This article examines the relationship between the law of occupation and Security Council Resolution 1483 in Iraq. It analyzes whether, and if so under which conditions, the UN Security Council may derogate from the law of occupation. This involves an examination of the relevant articles of the U N Charter. The article then discusses whether the Council has actually derogated from the law of occupation in the case of Iraq. To this end, Security Council Resolution 1483 as well as related state practice is analyzed.
    Marten Zwanenburg, Senior legal adviser at the ministry of Defence of the Netherlands

  • Neighbours as human shields? The Israel Defense Forces’ "Early Warning Procedure" and international humanitarian law

    The "Early Warning Procedure" enables the Israel Defense Forces to obtain assistance by a civilian volunteer, i.e. a neighbour, to arrest a wanted person in the occupied territories. The author argues that, if the fact that protected persons cannot renounce their rights under the Fourth Geneva Convention is taken into account, this policy violates the prohibition whereby protected persons cannot be forced to serve in the occupying power's armed forces and to participate in military operations, as well as the prohibition on the use of human shields. In this context, international humanitarian law is lex specialis in relation to human rights law. Considered from another angle, the policy also violates the principle of proportionality, as it is possible for the forces to achieve their aims at a higher risk to themselves but without the danger of any harm to the civilian in question.
    Roland Otto, Dipl. Jur., Research Fellow at the Institute of International Law, University of Göttingen

  • On the relationship between human rights law protection and international humanitarian law

    It is well known that the implementation mechanisms of international humanitarian law are less intrusive and thus less effective than those of human rights law. However, there is an overlap regarding the scope of both bodies of law. In this view, the article describes the areas of overlap and analyses the legal consequences with regard to the implementation mechanisms. The cumulative application of human rights law and international humanitarian law inevitably raises the question of the reciprocal relationship. The International Court of Justice answered this question by recognising the primacy of international humanitarian law over human rights law in armed conflicts, thereby describing the former as lex specialis. The examination of the decisions of the Inter-American Commission/Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights shows a tendency towards the application of international humanitarian law b y these human rights bodies. Although the practice of human rights bodies is limited, it provides a welcome addition to the admittedly narrow array of international means to enforce compliance with international humanitarian law by parties to armed conflicts. This clearly demonstrates the practical and useful outcome of the convergence of human rights and international humanitarian law.
    Hans-Joachim Heintze, Senior Researcher

  • A new protocol on explosive remnants of war: The history and negotiation of Protocol V to the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons


    Louis Maresca, Legal Adviser

  • Legality of amnesties in international humanitarian law – The Lomé Amnesty Decision of the Special Court for Sierra Leone


    Simon M. Meisenberg, Research Associate

  • Privatization, Outsourcing and Public-private Partnerships: Charity.com or business.org?

    Today's tendency to privatize or outsource many activities hitherto considered the exclusive preserve of the State has given rise to sharp debate. This phenomenon is of direct concern to humanitarian organizations when it involves essential public services such as the water supply and health care. Privatizing the realms of defence and security - the very core of state prerogative - raises serious legal and humanitarian questions. In this article the author takes a brief look at developments in the interaction between the State and the private sector, as well as at the emergence of the non-profit sector. The specific nature of humanitarian emergencies brings out in particularly stark contrast some of the main challenges related to the privatization and outsourcing of public services and security.
    Gilles Carbonnier

  • Humanitarian Assistance in Armed Conflict

    Conference of the Luxemburg Group - 24-25 May 2004 – Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva
    Yasmin Naqvi, Research Assistant

  • The International Committee of the Red Cross reduces the protective embargo on access to its archives

    Rules governing access to the archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross – (Adopted by the ICRC Assembly on 17 January 1996 and revised by the ICRC Assembly on 29 April 2004)
    Jean-François Pitteloud

  • Future themes. Aim and scope of the Review

    The aim of the International Review of the Red Cross is to promote reflection on humanitarian law, policy and action in armed conflict and other situations of collective armed violence. A specialized journal on humanitarian law, it endeavours to promote knowledge, critical analysis and development of this law and to contribute to the prevention of violations of rules protecting fundamental rights and values. The Review also offers a forum for discussion on contemporary humanitarian action and for analysis of the causes and characteristics of conflicts so as to give a clearer insight into the humanitarian problems they generate.

  • Books and articles (Winter 2004)

    Recent acquisitions of the Library & Research Service, ICRC