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Bringing the Commentaries on the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols into the twenty-first century

31-12-2012 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 888, by Jean-Marie Henckaerts


The ICRC Commentaries on the 1949 Geneva Conventions date back to the 1950s, and those on the 1977 Additional Protocols were written in the 1980s. Since the original Commentaries were published, the Conventions and Protocols have been put to the test, and practice with respect to their application and interpretation has developed significantly. In order to capture these new developments a major ICRC project to update the Commentaries on these six treaties is now well underway. Its goal is to contribute to a better understanding of, and respect for, international humanitarian law. Ultimately, the project seeks to enhance protection for the victims of armed conflicts.


Jean-Marie Henckaerts is Legal Adviser in the Legal Division of the International Committee of the Red Cross and Head of the project to update the Commentaries on the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the Additional Protocols of 1977.