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ICRC promotes respect for the Geneva Conventions. Why doesn’t it systematically condemn violations?

15-11-2002 FAQ

ICRC's role is to work in conflict zones to help people affected by war. It believes that publicly condemning violations of international humanitarian law should be its last resort.

 Risks involved: Denouncing wrong-doers (whether actual, alleged or suspected) will not necessarily bring about immediate, meaningful and sustainable improvements. It might actually block ICRC's access to those who need its humanitarian protection. (ICRC recognizes that other humanitarian organisations take a different view on this and respects their right to speak out.)

 In its everyday work, ICRC is continuously acting on violations and speaking out about them - but directly to those responsible and who have the power to make changes.  

 In exceptional cases: Only where violations are repeated, are on a serious scale, if they prevent humanitarian action from being carried out, if confidential approaches have failed and public statements are seen as being in the vital interest of the victims, will ICRC consider speaking out publicly.

The answers to FAQs on this site are intended as brief, informative summaries of what are often complex matters, and the terminology used has no legal significance.