The reservations to the Protocols additional to the Geneva Conventions for the protection of war victims
31-03-2003 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 849, by Julie Gaudreau
On 8 June 1977, the Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflicts (Geneva, 1974-1977) adopted two protocols additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 for the protection of war victims. The Protocols have not yet attained the universality of the Geneva Conventions,but 160 States are nevertheless party to the Additional Protocol relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), and 153 are party to the Additional Protocol relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II).
The Additional Protocols undeniably enhanced international humanitar ian law. The aim here is not to re-examine how – although this is discussed when relevant – but rather to draw up an inventory of all the reservations with which the Protocols have been encumbered. To date, 34 States have formulated nearly 150 unilateral declarations pertaining to Protocol I, whereas 13 States have formulated 13 declarations pertaining to Protocol II. This article endeavours to ascertain whether those declarations constitute true reservations and, if so, to assess their scope.